When we hear the word “yoke”, there are just a few images that come to mind: the inside of an egg (of course, the spelling is a bit different); but a kind of wooden beam, as on an ox attached to a plow or on a slave to show his defeat & captivity. And we have heard this term in that context of slavery within the New Testament haven’t we? “Do not put upon yourselves the yoke of slavery for a second time…” says St. Paul to the people of Galatia. And in today’s gospel we hear it again, only this time we are invited to bear a yoke, to let it be placed upon us, as if we would become owned by something. This calls to mind the season we’re in…the season for weddings! No not of being owned or enslaved, but something quite different!
Consider the word “yoke” again: it infers a kind of bondage, but in this context it implies a bondage with another…to be coupled, to be united as part of a pair. In our gospel’s context, Christ—the one who frees us from slavery and bondage to sin or temptation—is now inviting us to be paired with Him, coupled with Him in a new bond. And in this bond we no longer find ourselves alone or isolated, but rather we are joined with him and no longer belong to ourselves alone. Our being yoked with Christ now brings about the new plan of the Father, a plan of redemption. Jesus doesn’t impose it upon us however, he invites us—in freedom and full knowledge—to come to Him who is gentle and filled with compassionate love, to cleave to him as a lover with a beloved.
And considering again this season for weddings, from the word “yoke” comes the Greek word for “spouse” being bound by choice as a result of a proposal. Today, Christ proposes to us: He asks that we enter into a covenant of love with Him, of humility and gentleness…that with Him we can become so deeply united that neither of us will ever be alone, that the Father’s plan for our redemption can be brought to fulfillment, that we may—in Him—find rest for ourselves.
Yes, the One who says he is nothing, but instead receives all that He is from the Father’s gracious love, invites us and proposes to us…that we do the same. That we acknowledge our whole being is God’s blessing to us…and return to Him by clinging to His only Son.
May Christ encourage you, may you accept His proposal to enter into life with Him, this day and always.
God love you.