Thursday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Ex 3:13-20;  Mt 11:28-30                                          

“Take my yoke upon you.”   The yoke of Christ is light because he pulls the load with us.  But does his yoke mean more than helping us bear the burdens and crosses of life?

In times past a yoke made it possible for two animals to do many things that one ox or horse could not do alone.  With a well-fitting yoke two animals could more easily pull a plow through hard packed soil. When yoked together horses could pull a very heavy wagon, or lift a loaded pallet into the air by ropes and pulleys.  Yokes were used in forestry so draft animals could drag away the cut trees, and in quarries to move enormous stones, and along narrow canals to pull boats in summertime, or sleigh driven carriages in winter.  A yoke made it possible to do many things that couldn’t be done alone.  Is it the same with Christ’s yoke?

When Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you” is he also talking about our different vocations, the variety of ways in which Christ calls us to join with him in his work to save the world?  Yes, his yoke is our personal calling, the grace to do with him what we could never do alone when we accept his call and take his yoke upon us.   



Thursday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings:  Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19; Mt 11:28-30                                    

“Take my yoke upon you.”  In our farm office we have an antique yoke hanging on the wall.  It was used in the days when we farmed our land with horses.  As I pictured it in my memory it was a single yoke to be placed over the neck and shoulders of a draft animal.  But I was wrong.  It’s a double yoke, made for two horses or oxen.  

That got me thinking about the yoke in today’s Gospel.  Is Jesus talking about a single yoke meaning that we bear it alone?  Or, is it a double yoke meaning that we are joined with Christ who pulls the load with us?  

Two other bible verses suggest an answer.  In the Book of Numbers we read that “Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.”1  That’s a double yoke shared with an idol.  Instead, Jesus wants us to be yoked with him.  And in the Gospel of Mark we read that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined (literally ‘yoked’) to his wife.”2 To be yoked with Christ is to be united with him just as a husband and a wife are joined with each other, pulling the load and sharing the burdens of life together.     

The yoke of Christ is easy, the Greek word means comfortable, it fits well, it is grace; and his burden is light because Christ pulls the load with us and for us.  We do not have to bear the burdens of life alone when we are yoked with Jesus. 

1. Numbers 25:5 

2. Mark 10:7