……from your Pastor’s Desk
“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.”
Today’s gospel should give us comfort when we feel down and out. If we feel that we have worked our fingers to the bone and have not seen any success, the gospel is for us.
Can any of you relate?
17 years ago I went to concelebrate a priest’s mother’s funeral. I was one of 10 priests in attendance. Minutes before we were to start, it was realized that no one chose Pall-Bearer’s, so 6 of us were quickly recruited. We had to carry the heavy, ornate, metal casket a long way and we were in our Albs [the long white garment priests wear under their vestments] and they had us wear cotton white gloves – which all contributed to making the casket even more difficult to carry as the gloves made the metal handle rails slippery. Not to mention, most priests don’t spend much time in the gym bulking up – so, as it turned out most of the weight shifted to my end. Had we had time to prepare – we would have been better ‘yoked’ [pun intended] together to carry it as less of a burden.
Jesus tells us to come to him when we feel burdened and weighed down. He will refresh us. He uses the metaphor of a “yoke.” No doubt during the years he spent in the carpentry shop he made many yokes, carefully measuring the shape and contours of the animals who would wear it. A yoke was put on an oxen so that it could do work. The better the fit – the better for all. But, to us, it does not always seem light or easy. However, the metaphor also calls us to see that we are “yoked” with Christ. He shares our burden. We are not alone. He is always right beside us if we but turn and look.
Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Interesting choice of words. “Easy” is the English translation of the Greek word “chrestos.” This should sound very familiar to us. It sounds exactly like the title of Jesus: “Christ.” Christos!
There are many meanings for “chrestos.” One meaning is in the context of a carpentry shop. It applies to yokes, and means “well-fitting.” Again, the metaphor takes us back to the carpentry shop at Nazareth where Joseph and Jesus carved yokes for oxen.
A yoke may not be easy, but it fits us well; it was designed for us personally by Jesus!
It does not chafe or burn. And when we think that it is too heavy, remember that we are yoked with Christ; he carries the greater burden. Christos – Chrestos!