The gospel of today begins with a solemn invitation from the Lord. He says, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.
In this invitation, there is the person who invites. There are the people who the person is sending this invitation and there is a reason for this invitation.
The person who invites is Jesus. The people that are invited are those who are overburdened. Then the reason Jesus is inviting them is to give them rest.
Therefore, it is only in Jesus that we can find true and inner peace. Let us then take our burdens and come to Jesus. Nothing on earth can give us this peaceful rest. Only Jesus can. Come to Jesus and hand Him over all your worries, tribulations, betrayals and disappointments.
The Heart that truly Loves.
When we read that humble invitation from Jesus “come to me”, we see a heart that truly loves.
Here, we see a heart that wants to help, a heart that truly is eager to save etc but this heart has been so neglected especially at this time things are very difficult.
Faith is going down. Many people are losing that spiritual strength and vigour.
The Reason for the Invitation.
There is a reason Jesus invited the people to Him. The people are already tired of the burdens and legalism of the Pharisees. Jesus rebukes them in Matthew 23:4 that they tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.
This made people so tired of the do”s and don’t ‘s, yet their conditions refuse to change. The invitation is a reminder that we can only find peace of mind in Jesus.
The Pharisees and their strict legalism became a burden to the people. It is the reason Jesus says that they are overburdened. In essence, they are overburdened with doing this or doing that.
So, Jesus asks the people to come to Him. The reason is that His burden is light and different from that of the legalism of the Pharisees.
What we mean here is that Pharisees are only interested in what the law says, without thinking if it helps the people or not.
A good example is when Jesus heals on the sabbath day. Instead of praising God for saving someone from suffering, they become angry that the healing happened on the sabbath. So, their interest is not in love, mercy, forgiveness, peace and salvation of souls.
Their sole concern is on whatever the law says, whether it affects the people or not and sometimes they add their own that it will become a burden to the people.
Hence, Jesus invites the people to come to Him. His burden is different. Therefore, coming to Jesus is different from extreme legalism.
To come to Jesus is to encounter peace, love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of our souls.
Our suffering and frustration continue to increase because we have turned our backs and hearts on Jesus and think that in the world we will have peace.
The only thing we can find in the world is more challenges, persecution, trouble upon trouble etc. Peace comes from Jesus (John 16:33). Let us come to Jesus.
Today Jesus speaks from the context of the farmer who yokes two oxen and commands them on what to do. Whatever He says and whatever he wants is what the oxen will do.
Sometimes the people who control these animals sometimes load them with heavy burdens. When they do this, the animals become tired and weak to work. So, the people at that time are growing weary of the many laws they have to keep. They become like people who are under bondage.
Today, we are under the control of so many external factors; from ourselves, friends, relatives, schools, the government etc. We find ourselves under external bondage.
We have become a problem to ourselves, making things hard for us. Today, we consistently increase the price of goods and believing that it is a way to survive. Many families and communities today are living in hatred and jealousy, fighting each other.
Some people will come to laugh with you, but deep down in their hearts, they hate you. Many people today can go to any extreme to survive, even if it means sacrificing a ritual. Everyone wants to make it by all means, yet no one makes it. Sometimes we are the ones that placed ourselves under siege. It is time to reflect and go back to the drawing board. Let us repent and come to Jesus. We need Jesus. We need rest.
How to do This.
Jesus gives us two ways to do this. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. This indicates that coming to Jesus is not an indication that you will be free from the yoke. Jesus wants us to yoke ourselves to Him. Instead of allowing other external factors to influence us, we have to allow Him and His way of life to influence whatever we do.
To come to Jesus means that now that we yoke ourselves to Him. It is a decision to abide by His words and be close to Him. It means that we are now connect ourselves to Him. We live like Him and follow His ways.
When we do this, we learn His humility, endurance and perseverance in the time of suffering, patience, love of one another, forgiving spirit etc. When we have these virtues, we will always remain at rest despite the challenges.
Hence, the yoke we are going to carry from Jesus according to Him is not burdensome like that of the Pharisees and the world. It is a burden that is light, good, salvific, full of grace, and the secret of inner peace. Therefore, when we live like Him, we also experience these.
Despite the difficult times, this is not the moment to lose hope nor the time to enrich ourselves, putting people under suffering etc.
It is a time of persistent prayer and a time to remain faithful to God. It is a time to work like Jesus in touching lives. Instead of turning away from God and increasing our sorrows, let us come to Jesus and be at rest in His arms. He is our refuge and strength in the time of need (Psalm 46:1-3).
May God bless you and help us to remain faithful and firm against challenges. Amen.