Shoulder My Yoke

In this hard-edged world an invitation to meekness and humbleness of heart is the opposite of the qualities that people think they need to succeed.

Surely we need a certain hardness and a thick skin to get on and make a difference? But Jesus is inviting us to take on his yoke and learn from him. What is important to remember is that Jesus didn’t say if your follow me you have no problems in life. Jesus is not promising that, if you follow him, he will take all your troubles away and your life will be sweet and you will not have a care in the world.

I remember years ago, as a young priest, having an animated conversation with man who thought that religion was a crutch that people used to help them to deal with the trials of life. His contention was that people needed to rid themselves of this crutch and they would experience a real freedom, that they would be much happier.

Here in the Gospel today, Jesus is asking us to take on a yoke that is easy and light. What is a yoke? It is a wooden collar that joins two animals together, usually oxen, to enable them to pull together. The yoke enables the pair to work well together. We are asked to yoke ourselves to Christ. If we do this then we will not be overburdened and the work we do is not in our own strength and power so we will not be exhausted or run ragged.

I can think of religious people who believe that, unless they are working twenty-four hours a day in the Lord’s vineyard, they are slacking. It is like a badge of honour. But they are not tied to Jesus and they are doing it under their own steam. True humility is submitting ourselves to Jesus. This goes against our instinct to show we are totally competent and we can do anything. Taking on Jesus’ yoke means doing the will of the Father just as Jesus did. We need to learn how to fall willingly into Jesus’ rhythm, steps, stride and way.

Lord, give me the grace to grow in meekness and humbleness of heart.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest