Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In the Gospel, we find the term ‘yoke’ that means a wooden bar which is fastened over the necks of two animals, and connected to the vehicle or load that they are pulling. In the Bible, this image is often applied to the observance of the Law. Jeremiah, says about the Jews: “It is long ago now since you broke your yoke, and said: ‘I will not serve’ (Jer 2:20). Especially in the times of Jesus, under the scrupulosity of Pharisees, the Law, its prescriptions and traditions truly became a heavy yoke. Peter wants to free the pagans from it (Acts 15:10) and Paul can write: “Christ freed us to make us really free. So remain and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1), alluding to the Law of Moses.
We can guess that Jesus is pointing to the Jews under the Law when he says: “you who work hard and who carried heavy burdens.” Jesus proposes another ‘yoke’ that he calls ‘my yoke’ and assures that it is good and light. In fact, the ‘burden’ Jesus offers us is to believe in him and to love our neighbor. “Carry each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Learning from the gentleness and humility of his heart, we will find rest. The grace of his Spirit will support us in following this through.
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