His Yoke and His Burden
© Fr. Bob Schreiner
At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Leave it to Jesus to include in the same paragraph both an expression of his own child-like delight and joy along with a reference to his cross. Leave it to Jesus to have the chutzpah to at one and the same time extend an open, loving invitation to all to ‘come to...’ him while at the same time trying to explain how his cross and yoke are easy and light to bear. Leave it to Jesus to suggest that bearing the weight of the world’s sin, that being crushed under the weight of the cross was something by which he found a deeper union with his divine Father in heaven - the font of his everlasting joy.
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...” “Come to me...and I will give you rest...” “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I believe this spiritual truth and mystery which the gospel invites us to enter was so powerfully, so artfully captured by Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion.” In the movie, we were spared not one gruesome detail of the historical fact of our Savior’s scourging and brutal torture at the hands of the Roman soldiers. With eye flinching accuracy, we were brought into the courtyard of our Savior’s passion there to confront the weight of the world’s sin - mind you, our sins - your sins - my sins - and what it takes to atone for it. Then from the blood soaked cobblestone stage of brutality, the journey to Golgatha begins. Embracing the wood of our shame - the wooden fragment of our dignity, splintered by sin - our Savior received his yoke - he took up the burden and freely, willingly began the torturous journey to his own sacrifice.
Along the way, the crowds jeered and mocked and hurled scorn and derision to the one who once commanded the attention of thousands with his sermons; who had stretched out his hands and healed their afflictions. He falls under the weight of it, his yoke; his burden. Leave it to Jesus. He gets up, reaching out for HIS cross, for HIS burden, for HIS yoke. He embraces it again as like a long, lost beloved and carries on. Leave it to Jesus. He falls again. But this time, his Mother rushes out of the alley with memories of his childhood in her head and seeks to comfort her little boy. And it is then, that we so artfully see the spiritual truth and mystery of today’s gospel so artfully engaged. Fallen, exhausted and beaten beyond recognition to all - except to a mother - Jesus, still embracing HIS yoke, HIS burden, HIS cross - looks up at his mother and says with a rasping voice which hints of a startling child-like delight: “See Mother? I make all things new again.”
That is our Savior. This is the way of salvation.
And we dare not, cannot leave this spiritual truth and mystery to Jesus alone. This we must take up for ourselves through him. When Paul spoke to the Romans of living not in the flesh but in the spirit - he means that we must all live our lives in and through and by the Spirit of Christ Jesus. His truth and his mystery are not to be left alone - abandoned and distanced from us like historical artifacts of divine history which are curious to observe but have no real significance for our lives. No! Says St. Paul: “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” In real time, we each are meant to play the role - we each are called to be - the one who freely, willingly, joyfully embraces the yoke and burden of life as like a beloved - as like Christ. Bruised, beaten, mocked and scorned, we are to look up from within the truth and mystery of the Spirit of Christ Jesus and know this with the certitude of faith within our hearts: See, in, with and through the Spirit of Christ Jesus we make all things new again.
I speak of something quite real, here. These are not just the pious mumblings of an overtrained cleric. I assure you, this spiritual truth and mystery is being faithfully and artfully lived by many in our midst. Recently I visited a shut-in of the parish who has experienced the unexpected weight and burden of the cross throughout her life - and it just seems to keep piling on. Misfortune followed by mishap followed by bad news followed by worse. The world of the flesh would look at her and shout to heaven - “Unfair!” But she looks at me and says, “See what a blessing I have to share in the sufferings of Christ.” She said, “I offer up what little pain I have for others whose pain is greater.”
“See Mother, I make all things new again.”
I left that visit with her - refreshed.
Leave it to Jesus - to leave it to us - to share in the truth and mystery of his yoke and his burden.
Will you accept the invitation - the invitation which alone will answer the burdens of life?
“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened - and I will give you rest.”
Go to him and find the font of your everlasting joy...
Fr. Schreiner is a Minnesota native who currently serves as pastor of the Cathedral parish in the Diocese of Crookston, MN. Ordained in 1989, he later received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (magna cum laude) from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL; and he is currently a doctoral candidate in moral theology from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C. He presently serves as the Episcopal Vicar for Health Care Affairs in the Diocese. Fr. Schreiner has also taught college level courses in Philosophical Ethics, served as an instructor in Systematic and Moral Theology courses for the Diocesan Ministry School, and served as Vicar for the Diaconate and Diaconate formation for 12 years
Diocese of Crokston, Minnesota
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Father Bob Schreiner - Pastor, 757 546-9580
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