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home : opinion : word of faith

7/6/2017 9:00:00 AM
WORD OF FAITH
Wearing the yoke of Jesus
BY SISTER ANNA MARIE MCGUAN, RSM


FROM A READING FOR JULY 9, 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light...' - Mt 11:28-30


In Sunday's Gospel (Mt 11:25-30), Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of His personal way of talking to His Father.

First, Jesus praises or blesses His Father and references how He brings "the little ones" to faith. Jesus says the Father has hidden the mysteries of the kingdom from the wise (or proud) and has shown those same mysteries to the humble.

The point is not that God is playing hide-and-go-seek or disguising His plan for our lives. Rather, those who humble themselves and let God reveal His plan over time will understand His mysteries.

This revelation over time, on a personal and communal level, occurs over and over again in the Bible. Take, for example, Sunday's first reading (Zec 9:9-10). In this prophecy, we hear about a king who will come, a just Savior, who is meek and rides on a colt when He enters Jerusalem. Jesus, on Palm Sunday, perfectly fulfills this prophecy -- but that revelation didn't happen until almost 500 years after the prophecy appeared.

Can't see future
It takes time for us to fully understand God's action in our lives, and patient and humble trust makes our understanding and acceptance of God's providence possible. He is doing something in our lives; we just don't see it all at once. What we need to do is unite our hearts to His providence, and, as Jesus tells us, take His yoke upon ourselves.

In the Jewish understanding of Jesus' time, "yoke" was a metaphor for the law. To wear the yoke of the law and commandments means to be obedient to them.

No teacher, however, ever asked his students to take his yoke upon their shoulders. This is unique to Jesus. His teaching is different, and to wear His yoke is to live meekly and humbly.

It's important to remember that meekness doesn't mean weakness. Meekness is the virtue which keeps our anger in check. Meekness prevents us from flying off the handle when we get upset. It brings reason to bear on the angry emotions we experience.

Humility, on the other hand, allows us to be aware of who we are and who God is, and not to mix up the two. Humility is grounded in the truth of reality. It does not mean to downplay our gifts or God's goodness to us. It allows us to recognize with gratitude and with a generous response of faith all that God is doing and has done in our lives.

Paul's perspective
In our second reading (Rom 8:9,11-13), St. Paul speaks about living "according to the Spirit." This is his way of saying, "Put on the yoke of Jesus." St. Paul's language might seem harsh at first, but he is making very clear what is at stake when we sin: "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Jesus' yoke -- living according to the Spirit -- leads to life, but it means that we have to put to death the deeds of sin. We are meant to be light and free, like God, and able to respond quickly to His promptings. Sin alienates us from God and keeps us away from Him by clouding our judgment.

We must fight against sin and for virtue. Then the transformation from "life according to the flesh" to "life according to the Spirit" can happen.

It is a gradual change. As we share Jesus' yoke, we become like Him. As we strive for this, our lives change because of His grace.





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