My Yoke is Easy

Antonio P. Pueyo
July 3, 2004
14th Sunday of the Year
Reproduced with Permission

When the day is winding down one sees familiar rituals. Flocks of birds fly by as they go back to roosting places. Farmers come home from the fields on the back of their water buffalos or their tractors. In the towns and cities, after punching out, office workers drop by their regular grocery stores. Laborers clean themselves up and start walking to the bus stops. In the rural areas work stops as the sun goes down. In urban centers, the day shift rests and the night shift takes over.

I was on a metro-rail once and I observed the faces of the people who were going home after a day's work. One sees weary faces. Some take the time in the train to sleep and rest. It is to people like these that Jesus' words in the gospel are being addressed, "Come to me, all you who work hard and carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you." (Mt. 11:28).

But why should we work? There are many ways of regarding work. One may regard work as a form of punishment. In our student days, breach of school rules is punished by some kind of work. We are assigned to dig ditches or to cut grass. Or one may see work as a means of livelihood. It is a way to make money to feed one's family. One can also look at work as a way of expressing oneself . Artists seem to be most fortunate because their work is their self-expression. Work may be considered as a participation in God's creative energies in the world. God shapes the world through our work.

Jesus in the Gospel today invites us to a new attitude regarding work., "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest." This sentence relates work (yoke), attitude (gentleness of heart) and rest. Jesus describes his yoke as easy his burden as light. What could be this yoke? Is Jesus referring to common work, such as his work as a carpenter and the work of his fishermen disciples? Or is Jesus referring to the work of being an itinerant preacher of the gospel? Either of these kinds of work demands energy and dedication.

Whatever be the work, Jesus promises rest. This rest comes about when we learn from Him as one who is humble and gentle of heart. Work becomes lighter when one works with the attitude of Jesus. We know from experience how work becomes heavier and difficult the more we complain about it. When our heart is not in our work not only do we perform sloppy work, we also feel easily tired Jesus' gentle and humble heart comes from accepting the Father's will for Him and going about his daily tasks with the knowledge that He is pleasing the Father.

Jesus worked out our salvation not only through His carrying of the cross. His quiet life in Nazareth as a carpenter was also salvific and pleasing to the Father. His exercise of humility and gentleness of heart was not only shown in his preaching and healing ministry. It was also seen in his conversations and presence among the people. Whatever Jesus was doing, He was pleasing the Father. This is a good description of a humble and gentle heart. It is a heart pleasing to the Father. If we have this, then work ceases to be a burden. Work becomes an offering to God. Work becomes a gift of oneself.

At the end of the day, when we are tired and spent, we say "Thank you Lord, for the opportunity to serve and please you." Take my offering. And God will say to you, "Well done my child. Thank you. Be at rest now. " Every working day then becomes an opportunity to please the Lord .

Action starter: Do you love your work? At the end of the day, are you proud of what you have accomplished?