St. Ambrose, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Isaiah 40:25-31 + Matthew 11:28-30
December 7, 2016
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… and you will find rest.”
Today’s brief Gospel passage seems to have a simple message. We might relate it to the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd: He cares for us, His flock, and gives us rest. That is why He is coming, and what we prepare for during Advent. But there is another, different piece to this passage.
Jesus first tells His disciples, “I will give you rest.” But then He explains His meaning by bidding them, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… and you will find rest.” This second sentence qualifies the first in a significant way.
Jesus gives us rest when we take His yoke upon ourselves and learn from Him. We might be confused by the idea of a yoke bringing us rest: after all, with a yoke comes a burden to pull. Who wants to consider himself as a beast of burden?
But aren’t we always carrying a burden throughout the course of life in this valley of tears? The burden doesn’t accompany the yoke. The burden is ours by virtue of our fallen nature. The yoke of Jesus is simply the gift by which we gain the leverage to bear our burden with some composure and peace. By tradition, of course, we identity the Cross as Jesus’ yoke, and certainly it is through this gift that we bear all that seems heavy in life.