Matthew 11: 28-30
Is 26: 7-9. 11. 16-19 / Ps 102: 13-21
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Bear the load and stop complaining,
Or you’ll feel burdened by your loss;
Feel blessed instead that you’re sharing
A little pain in Jesus’ cross.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus knew the burden that the religious leaders and teachers of the Judaic law had been imposing on the Jewish nation. He rebuked them, saying, “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You impose on people loads hard to carry, but you yourself do not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46). In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus invites the Jews to free themselves from the oppression of traditional Jewish customs, and take upon themselves instead the New Covenant of His love and the Good News of salvation.
We recognize many other forms of burden that people carry in their lives. One is the burden of sorrow or loneliness for the loss of a loved one. Another kind which our Lord most likely was referring to is the burden of sin, which includes unforgiveness and unrepentance. And the third kind is the yoke of service or responsibility in leadership.
The loss of a loved one, whether caused by death or a broken relationship can be so hard to bear for most people. By nature, man is a social creature who thrives on intimate relations like love and friendship, to the point that we become dependent on the one(s) we love. When the object of our love dies or abandons us, grief or sorrow can weigh us down that life becomes unbearable or seemingly without purpose. This is the time when we need to heed the invitation of our Lord Jesus, in Whom “you will find rest for your souls.” His Spirit brings comfort and solace to the bereaved if only he/she opens his/her heart to His call.
Sin is such a heavy burden because it carries with it other loads like anxiety, depression, fear and doubt. These are the side effects of being separated from God. It also makes the sinner prone to commit the greater sin of pride. The sinner refuses to face up to his sin, and even tries to justify his action or motive. The only antidote for this baggage is the attitude of humility. This is probably the reason why God allows the fortunes of proud men to fall, so that their last option would be to turn to God for help in humble supplication.
Most people refuse to take on the yoke of leadership because it is an additional burden to their already loaded schedules. It is a rare breed of individuals who happily take on the responsibilities of servanthood in our community unfazed by the challenge, time, effort and resources that they entail. And the only reason they accept the position is because it is for the Lord, and they do it for love. These are the people who are happiest in our brotherhood.
How can we, ordinary Christians, also avail of this wonderful opportunity of setting ourselves free from the oppressive loads of day to day living, and share in what our Lord Jesus is telling us? It is simply this: by carrying the burdens of others, the Lord will carry our own. If we give more concern to the troubles and difficulties of other people, then our own problems and personal cares will become much lighter loads to carry.
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40:31) We thank You, Father God, for making us strong for the work ahead. Amen.
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