Have you ever heard a line of Scripture that you just cannot shake? The one that gnaws on you, not in a negative way, but because of how profound it is? I have pondered one for nearly a month now. It is from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” What does that mean?
When I heard “and my burden is light” my question was, “What burden?” What burden does God give us? I concluded that he gives us NONE! Sure, we all have difficulties in life. I am sure that God allows us to have these difficulties, but he certainly is not burdening us. God has and gives no burden. All God asks of us is to have total trust and love for him and to love our neighbor as ourselves. There are no other rules to burden us. What burden is Jesus referring to?
The burden comes from us. We choose not to do the two “greatest commandments.” If we find that being a good Christian is a burden, it certainly is not coming from God. Jesus in this gospel assures us that we are not alone. He invites us to take his yoke and follow his direction; by doing that, we will find rest from our own burdens. Picture a yoke and its purpose. A yoke is normally employed in tandem on beasts of burden, for example, oxen, so that they work efficiently together and to ease the load of work on the individual animal. Jesus knows our hardships, both spiritual and physical, and he wants to make our lives easier. He wants to join us, therefore he offers us his yoke.
God is constantly reaching out to us in his total mercy and forgiveness. I do not think we fully understand that concept. We have no idea of what total mercy and forgiveness is. Like all the other mysteries surrounding God, it is beyond our comprehension. Not knowing it hinders us in surrendering fully to God. However, as we develop more trust in him and slowly surrender ourselves, we get a taste of his mercy and the lifting of our burdens. Hence, Jesus' yoke is God's total mercy and forgiveness.
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Jesus, in this gospel, is telling us that he is with us every step of the way. He is willing to take on our burdens as he has already demonstrated by his crucifixion.
Therefore, all we need to do is to accept his yoke and learn from him.
Copyright 2017 Michael T. Carrillo
About the Author
Michael Carrillo is a retired police officer from a large California metropolitan police department. He is married to Vicki and they have five adult children between them. He is an unabashed fan of Jesuit education, though he regrets not obtaining one himself. Day hikes and walks give him opportunities and inspirations to look for and find God.