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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

for Wednesday (December 12th): rest



Matthew 11:28-30 
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Reflection
What kind of yoke does Jesus have in mind for us? And how can it be good for us? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is "easy". The Greek word for "easy" can also mean "well-fitting".

Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the "sweet yoke of Jesus" and to live the "heavenly way of life and happiness". Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart. Jesus also says his "burden is light".

 There's a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love.

When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus' presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?

In the Advent season we celebrate the coming of the Messianic King who ushers in the reign of God. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God's kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love and holiness (Isaiah 40).

Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God's kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).  In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.

The yoke of Christ's kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and disobedience. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us.

 Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a yoke of glory, freedom, and joy with him.

The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of grace, power, and freedom to live in love, peace, and joy as God's sons and daughters.

Do you trust in God's love and submit to his will for your life?

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