14th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year A
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you who are labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
A yoke is a wooden bar which unites two animals enabling them to work together in harmony. When Jesus speaks about shouldering his yoke, he is inviting us to work in harmony with him. He offers us an image of working side by side with him.
Of course, a yoke can also restrict freedom. In an age when freedom is everything, restrictions on individual freedom are not always welcome. To work so closely with Jesus may seem to pose restrictions which are difficult to accept. They may require some change in lifestyle, thinking or focus.
Jesus does not shy away from acknowledging that restrictions can be a burden. But he provides an interesting contrast between those who labour by themselves and are overburdened, and those who work in tandem with him for whom the burden is light.
There is nothing forceful or exploitative about this relationship. It brings us close to one who is “gentle and humble of heart”, and it is a formative relationship in which we learn from that closeness to Jesus.
At the heart of the analogy there is a very personal question – can I accept being so close to Jesus that I am walking in step with him, aligning my every move to his, allowing him to gently guide me in a direction he chooses?