12.13.17 Wed. Advent – wk 2 – (II)
1st Rdg Isaiah 40; 25 – 31
Gospel Matthew 11: 28 – 30
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.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy The Yoke is on You
The “yoke” that †Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel (Matt.11:30) is His way of life. To live my life in Christ is to be liberated from the burden of guilt and shame that is brought about by our sinfulness. By taking on the “yoke” of †Jesus, we make an exchange: the burden of sin and despair, for the “yoke” of freedom, joy and glory with Him. St Peter was a sinner, denying †Jesus three times, but He eventually lived †Jesus’ way of life. St. Paul collaborated in the killing of Christians. He then took on the way of life of †Jesus and was liberated. St. Augustine lived a very secular life but then took on †Jesus’ way of life. St. Francis of Assisi lived a worldly life but eventually followed the way of †Jesus and lived in freedom. In fact, all of the saints did this. Holiness is not perfection. The saints were not perfect; they were sinners, too. They took on the yoke of †Jesus and followed His way of life.
The “yoke” that †Jesus offers us, is His way of freedom; to live in love, peace and joy as sons and daughters of God. It is to exchange the desire for earthly power for the power that comes from docility to God’s will.
When we seek the wealth and possessions of the world we wear a “yoke” of slavery to the world. We constantly seek more because we think it determines our worth in life. We become obsessed with the desire to have more to feel we are worth more. When we choose the simplicity of †Jesus we find a “yoke” that is light and easy to wear. When we choose the simplicity of †Jesus, freedom and detachment from a self-centered neediness opens the heart to joy and peace. By choosing to put on the “yoke” of Christ we grow in intimacy with the Lord. This is done in two ways
First, by taking to heart, the message from the prophet Isaiah:
“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint” (Is. 40:31).
Hope gives us the assurance that God will be faithful to His promise. He will give us strength to conquer sin and weakness. He will renew our life if we only trust that the Lord knows our needs. In choosing “yoke” of †Jesus we will not exhaust ourselves, chasing what the world promises, but can only deliver temporarily. Chasing the false promises of the world, forces us to continue the chase for love, joy and peace. The yoke of †Jesus will give us these things that we truly desire.
The second way we grow in intimacy with the Lord is to surrender to His “yoke” of mercy. In the Gospel, †Jesus invites those who are labored and burdened to come to Him and they will find rest. If we are burdened by our sin, seeking the seductions of the world, †Jesus will unburden us through forgiveness. There is nothing God cannot forgive; we need only ask. Simply come before the Lord with a repentant heart and we will find the peace only He can give. If †Jesus would empty Himself of His divinity to be born in the flesh, to endure the sufferings of this world, there is nothing He would not do to free us from the burden of our sins. As we journey through Advent, with anticipation of the “new life” that can be ours, let us place our worldly yokes at the foot of the manger.
Pope Francis teaches: “With the birth of †Jesus in Bethlehem, it is God Himself, who abides among us, to free us from self-interest, sin and corruption, from seeking success at all costs, from seeking power to the detriment of the weak, from having the desire for wealth, and from seeking pleasure at any price” (Open Your Heart: Daily Reflections for Advent; All Saints Press, 2017; p.13).
The mercy of God is always available. In the next week and a half ask the Lord to free you of what burdens you. If it is a cross you will need to carry, trust that †Jesus will carry it with you. He will lighten the burden. St. Ambrose, prayed to †Jesus: “If you draw us, we will run and will take hold of swift spiritual breezes. For they put aside their burden, who have your hand as their support” (from: “St. Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works”; The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 65; 1972, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C.)
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.