A reflection and prayer for December 13, 2017, Day 11 of Advent
Jesus said to the crowds: “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.” (Matt 28:30)
We labor and are burdened, yes. Even in Advent, as we are trying to quiet down, and walk a slow and thoughtful journey to Bethlehem, the workload is heavier, the commitments are not always easy. Often we feel the strain so heavily that by the time Christmas has come, we are ready for it to be over — we can’t even hang in until Epiphany. How many of your neighbors begin to pack up their Christmas decorations on January 2? Some don’t even wait that long.
We feel burdened, and not just by Christmas; the ordinary stuff of Ordinary Time weighs us down plenty, thanks. And here is Jesus, inviting us to go to him, and promising rest.
But what sort of rest is this, where we take up his yoke? A yoke is still a burden around our necks. We’re still working.
Yes, we’re still working, but with this invitation, Jesus is making disciples of us. He’s not laying a yoke upon us, and walking away. The yoke, notice, is his yoke; he is tied to us, walking with us, side-by-side as the yoked oxen do. And he is going to show us how to do the walk. “Learn from me,” says this strange Master who is God and Servant. “Learn from me; learn the way; learn the humility and meekness …”
This is not the “winner’s message” as we are taught it in the West. In fact it is completely the opposite, and therefore counter-intuitive to us. It isn’t the way to “Succeed!” or “Get ahead” or “Bypass the losers” or “Get the brass ring.”
It is the way, though, to get the crown. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10)
Maybe “getting ahead” is not all its cracked up to be. We look at headlines about people who supposedly “have it all” — wealth, success, fame, multiple houses and vacations at St. Bart’s. They don’t really seem that happy, do they? Often they seem quite miserably burdened amid their “easy” lives — so much so that they self-medicate their way through it.
The Lord, the yoke-bearer, pats the other side of the collar and invites us to fit ourselves to it, and to learn how to bear it with lightness; with trust, which makes one free.
And there, in the mystery of meekness, which promises a blessing, will we find rest.
Come, Lord, Jesus, and show me how to fit myself to your yoke, that I might bear all things in your company. That I might learn what to carry, and what to let go of, that my load is lessened, and I am released from all that is not essential, including all of those bad feelings, all envy, all resentment, all spite and malice. Come, Lord Jesus, and make me free! Amen.
Aleteia is bringing you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.