“Take My Yoke (Instead)”

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

What is Jesus telling us? For starters, what’s a yoke? A yoke is made of wood or metal and lays around the necks or shoulders of beasts of burden in order to pull something behind them, such as a plow or a wagon. Though there exists single yokes for animals working alone, yokes are typically designed for pairs of animals to work side-by-side, together. A wise farmer might pair a mature animal with a less experienced animal to help guide and train the junior one. Looking down from above, a yoke that connects two animals and the attached tongue beam connected to the implement behind them bears a likeness to the Cross.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…
I am meek and humble of heart.”

Jesus criticized the proud and learned Pharisees for (in his words) tying up heavy burdens hard to carry and laying them on people’s shoulders without lifting a finger to help them. Do not imagine that Jesus is asking you to bear a yoke by yourself. Instead, Jesus asks us to share his yoke with him, to share in his labors and learn from his example.

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.”

Jesus’ invitation to bear his yoke will seem unattractive to us if we mistakenly imagine ourselves being presently unyoked, totally free and unencumbered. But no one’s neck or shoulders are unyoked — everyone bears a burden. Some are yoked to serious sins. As St. Paul says, those who sin are slaves to sin. Other people yoke themselves by trying to do lots of good things which the Lord is not asking of them and they find it overwhelming. Both of these yokes are heavy and hard and chafe against us because they are not God’s will for us. Is the yoke you now carry Jesus’ yoke for you or one of your own fashioning? Perhaps bring that question to prayer to find relief.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

When animals’ shoulders are yoked together as a team, their work is the same. They plow through the same field or walk along the same road. Jesus wants you, wherever you are, to share in his labors. Jesus desires you to work alongside him with your family, with your friends, at your job, in all that you do. Ask the Lord to put you to salvific use, then be open and see what opportunities and encounters he sets before you. Ask Jesus that you may share in his works.

When two animals’ necks are yoked, facing forward together, their perspectives are the same. Jesus wants us, wherever we are, to share perspective, his outlook. To look up, and see the Father as Jesus sees him. To look out, and see other people and the world as he sees them. To look within, and see ourselves as Jesus sees us. “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” And no one sees you and the rest of humanity more clearly and truly than Jesus Christ—and he loves us. Ask Jesus that you may share his sight.

So in conclusion, if you labor and feel burdened, go to Jesus and he will give you rest. Wear his yoke and learn from him, he’s a meek and humble partner. And you will find rest for yourself, for his yoke is easier and his burden is lighter.

One Response to ““Take My Yoke (Instead)””

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Good image. It’s all too easy to lose track of the fact that there *is* Someone under the other side of the yoke when He’s intangible.

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