Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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“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, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
This Gospel passage is one of the most soothing passages in the Bible. It brings comfort to those who read it; hope to those who hear it; and a sense of security to those who live it. But let’s not forget the main purpose of this passage, which, though poetic in nature, is a passionate and forceful invitation to follow The Lord more dearly and nearly.
Come to me. Here it is: a formal invitation from the Lord. Follow me. Trust me. Where I go you should go. What I do you should do. How I live my life you should live your life. Be confident in me, not in yourself or in others. Come to me is an invitation to change course, to follow a certain path, a narrow path – the only path – which was designed specifically for you by Him.
Take from me. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Here it is: another invitation. Take my yoke means come under my authority. Allow me to influence your life with my words and my actions. Christ is inviting us to come under the influence of His Commandments, especially the Commandment to love one another.
So what will it be? What are the alternatives? There appears to be many. But in my life, it has always been either the yoke of sin or the yoke of Christ, and sometimes the two have tried to mix together!
“For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Really??? Is He being serious??? Who is He trying to fool? Christ’s commandments are not easy and His burden is not light.
It’s hard to be a Christian. It’s hard to get to heaven. But at an early age I made a list, and from that last I was able to see the light of Christ and how light He really is.
It’s hard to get into heaven.
It’s harder to get into Harvard.
It’s hard to live up the Christian ideal.
It’s harder to live the American dream.
It’s hard to follow Christ.
It’s even harder to follow your boss (or wife, or husband, or children).
It’s hard to understand the Bible.
It’s harder to understand all those on-line legal agreements.
It’s hard to defend the faith.
It’s harder to defend one’s actions.
It’s hard to die for Christ.
It’s even harder to die for one’s nation.
There are so many rules to follow.
There are so many more laws to obey.
It’s hard to love your enemies.
It’s harder to like them or be tolerant of them.
It’s dangerous to trust in God.
It’s even more dangerous to trust in others.
It’s hard to confess your guilt in Confession.
It’s harder to confess your guilt in a Court of Law.
It’s hard to believe that good always triumphs over evil.
It’s harder to believe that evil will triumph over good.
It’s hard to stay holy.
It’s harder to stay healthy.
Yes. I have come to believe that Christ’s yoke is easier than others, and His burden much lighter.
Learn from me. Here it is: the final invitation from the Lord. How can we learn from the Lord? Well, we can read a lot about Him. We can read the Bible, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read about the lives of the Saints. But reading about Christ will get you just as far in your spiritual life as reading about prayer! Sure, you can read all the books you can get your hands on regarding prayer but none of them will ever put your hands together and get you praying! Eventually, you have to put the books down and start praying.
The same holds true for Christ and Christianity. Eventually, you have to put all your book knowledge to work and begin to live like Christ and experience what Christ experienced: his poverty; his love; his forgiveness; his mercy and compassion; his reaching out in uncomfortable situations and with annoying or hateful people; his sacrifices and hardships; his betrayal, death and crucifixion.
Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. That’s the ticket.