Hello and thank you for allowing me to share this time of Sunday reflection with you. In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites all who need rest to come to him. The last two verses of our reading for today go like this…
The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew the 11th chapter (28-29)
Glory to you, Oh Lord.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to you, Oh Christ.
Grace and peace are yours from God our Father, and from his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I celebrate this weekend the independence of both of my countries – yesterday the independence in the United States, and today the independence in Venezuela – I reflect on what freedom means for us. We have different meanings of freedom. A common meaning is that the more choice you have, the freer you are. The less choice you have, the more dominated you are. When I search the meaning of freedom on Google, I found these three sentences:
- The power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
- The absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
- The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
In Jesus’ time, he saw oppression, domination, and slavery. Some scholars say that Jesus was referring to more than just the yoke worn by animals in the field. There was also a yoke worn by the slaves. I looked it up and found a picture from a course at Cornell University about Web Resources on Ancient History. It is an iron slave collar, Roman, from the fourth to the sixth century of our current era. The inscription says, “I have run away; hold me. When you shall return me back to my master, Zoninus, you will receive a gold coin.”
On the other hand, Professor Jennifer Kaaland cites Dennis Dulling in her commentary this week, and shares that the term yoke in this reading was often used in the rabbinic literature referring the task of obedience to the Torah, the Hebrew Scriptures about the law. Jesus seems to be saying that if we learn from his submission to the instructions, the guides from God, we may find rest for our souls.
I have always felt fascinated by the freedom the owner and pilot of a plane has. They can go anywhere they please. But before that freedom, there is a lot of regulations that they need to learn. It takes a lot of discipline to follow those rules, before they experience that freedom. We also know that the truth sets us free. However, we live in a time when we hear public words and we question the veracity of them, and that can become very weary. We get concerned with our health risks, the violence, and the socio-political and economic turmoil of our society. Even more, in our seclusion, any illness or even deaths of family members, relatives and of dear friends, becomes a heavy emotional pain.
Then we hear Jesus saying, “Come to me, I will give you rest”. And the way to do that is to take another yoke. His yoke, his instructions, to live sharing our burdens with him. Let us lay down our load, let us do contemplative and deep prayer, vigils of lament, and let us ask Christ to pick up our burdens with us.
Although they will still be there and heavy, they will feel much lighter with his help.
Let us pray,
Loving Jesus, thank you for your caring words and your guidance in our lives. We have reasons to feel weary and heavy burdened. In our tiredness, we come to you. We lay down our loads and ask you to help us carry them. Only you have the power to do so. We place ourselves into your hands. We do this in your name, Jesus, because you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
Thank you for watching. Until next time stay with God’s blessing.
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine on you with grace and mercy.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace! Amen.