July 26, 2020: A Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Matthew 11:25-30

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
(Matthew 11:30-31)

Labor, burdens, rest. Jesus, that is something you, like us, were no stranger to. It is the cycle of each day and stretches into the years with its sameness. Yet in today’s Gospel, the clouds part, and the yokes of our outer and inner being which we place upon ourselves become tinder in the fire of an invitation to accept your yoke, the yoke of letting go into the self-surrender of love. And this yoke, you tell us, is easy and the burden, carried every day, is light.

Who of us wouldn’t like to find rest from inner turmoil and the complexities of life? You offer us the path of love, of letting go of the stranglehold of ego-driven lives and ask us to become a little one to whom you reveal the secrets of the heart of the Father. The wisdom you offer is the wisdom of letting go, of moving from a life centered upon myself – what I want, what I like, my own will. The list goes on and on. It is a yoke of our own making, Jesus, and it weighs us down with a weight too heavy to bear. Your yoke, the yoke of surrender into the heart of the Father, on the other hand, is the one yoke that we are meant to carry. There is no living life in this world without bearing a yoke. You give us a choice. We can choose the yoke that will eventually crush us with its irrational and selfish demands or the yoke that rests lightly on our shoulders, the yoke of charity and self-giving. This is the yoke that is easy and whose burden is light.

Jesus, we offer our shoulders to bear this yoke of yours. Let us know that you carry it with us and help us to experience its lightness. Give us true rest, the rest you promise us even now. Take the heavy yoke of our own making from our weary selves and gently replace it with the yoke of your Gospel and the rest of a heart surrendered in trust to you.