We don’t hear the word “yoke” very often. When we do, we might have a negative reaction. A yoke; being bound to another, takes away our freedom. Presently, we hear from the Gospel of Matthew when we attend liturgy, either in person or online. A few Sundays ago, we heard words that we might crave during this pandemic time: Jesus invites us to “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 by burden light.”
I am familiar with the meaning of the word yoke because I saw it in action while growing up on a farm in northern Wisconsin. We had a team of horses and they were yoked together by their harness. They walked together and worked together. One was in charge and the other followed the lead but they walked in unison. The one in charge did more of the work but the other contributed as well. They were a team.
During these days many feel the burden of a virus that can cause death and illness. It is burdensome, but Jesus promises us rest. How is that possible? It is possible because when we are yoked to Jesus, we do not have to be in charge. If anything, during these times, we find that we cannot be in complete control. We do not have to go it alone. Jesus walks with us and teaches us how to suffer bearing all with an attitude of meekness and humility.
It takes humility to put others first, to realize that we are not only yoked to Jesus, but to the rest of humanity. We are to put others first as we struggle with what we should do during this time. Perhaps honoring safe distancing, wearing a mask and washing our hands often takes humility but it does yoke us to the rest of humanity where we find the presence of God.
– Helen Ackermann