Homily for December 7th, 2016:
I spoke to you twelve days ago about Jesus’ words, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Jesus’ words in today’s gospel reading were among the examples I quoted. “Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus says. In Jesus’ day yokes were in daily use. Carved out of wood to fit over the shoulders, they had arms extending out beyond the shoulders, with a ring on each end supporting a rope from which the person using the yoke could hang a bucket or other container. This made it possible to transport with relative ease loads which could not be carried by hand.
It was crucial that yoke fit the shoulders of the person using it. Otherwise the yoke would chafe and the person attempting to use it would soon throw it off. “My yoke is easy,” Jesus says, “and my burden light.” There is an unspoken IF there. The yoke and burden Jesus offers us are easy and light only if we accept them. If we chafe against the yoke and try to throw it off, then it is not easy; and the burden which it supports is heavy and definitely not light.
To help us accept the yoke Jesus says: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Meekness and humility do not come to us easily or without prolonged effort and many failures. We must be lifelong learners. Our teacher is the best there is. He understands our difficulties. He is not interested in how often we stumble and fall. He is interested in one thing only: how often, with his help, we get up again, and continue the journey.
Our teacher’s name is Jesus Christ.