Blog & Pastor Letters

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

07-09-2023Weekly ReflectionDeacon John Cantirino

Much of the population in the United States and other developed countries now live in an urban environment, a city, as opposed to rural areas. Living in an urban area brings with it an experience far different from that of living in a rural setting. Most of the population is now removed from experiences and situations that once were well understood by most people when rural living was common. Our Lord, however, often used words and experiences that for many centuries were clearly understood by the people, because he drew upon the practicalities of living in a rural environment. We see this in the Gospel of today when he focuses on the yoke as a metaphor for what he offers and what a life lived in Christ entails.

But what is a yoke? And why is this image used by Jesus? A yoke is a cross piece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and is attached to a plow that they both pull. The yoke is a very practical and effective piece of equipment. By connecting the two animals, it provides a balance to the efforts of each animal. Each animal will work together, produce together, walk the same path, and the strong one will aid the weaker or more tired one. The yoke, in a practical sense, is a great aid for tilling the field and assuring the fullness of the harvest. However, the yoke was a heavy piece that took some effort to properly set up and to carry.

Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us his own yoke, a different yoke, a yoke that is light and easy to carry. Christ understands that life for many people is often strenuous, difficult, and tiresome. We can be laden down with so many things: fear of what the future may bring, loss of a sense of purpose, weariness from years of working, and seemingly endless obligations. But the heaviest weight, the most burdensome yoke we may carry is not seeing real meaning in our life, often as we get older. This is why Jesus offers us His yoke.

He wants to join us with him, to walk beside us and to carry us when we are tired or in despair or simply lost. And much like that physical yoke which is used to produce a full and abundant harvest when the time is right, the yoke of Jesus does the same, except this harvest is bountiful beyond our imagination. This harvest when we take the yoke of Christ, is that of peace, purpose, selfsurrender to our Lord, as we cultivate and prepare ourselves for eternal life. The Lord offers rest, not in the physical sense, but in the sense that anxiety, fear, the need for control that we often engage in, and doubt can all be dispelled from our life. True rest, true peace, true joy, will only be found in the one who has the power to offer these: Jesus Christ.

What the Lord tells us in this Gospel is an act of enormous compassion, for he understands the real tribulations and tests that are a part of this life. He offers us a path, right here and right now, that can free us as we journey toward our true home in heaven. That path, the way to such peace, is by accepting the yoke of Christ, saying yes to offering all up to Christ. The yoke that Jesus offers does not constrain us, it frees us. The yoke of Jesus is not difficult or hard to bear; it is easy as He tells us so Himself.

This is something for which we should be thankful. So, when was the last time that you thanked our Lord? The simple fact that you are here today, reading this homily, is a gift from God . . . thank Him. The opportunity each day to choose to live more closely with and in Jesus Christ is a gift from God . . . thank Him. The reality that Christ is ever present for us and offers to teach us and carry us is a gift from God . . . thank Him. Jesus thanks his Father for all that he has been given . . . how can we not do so also?