Thursday, July 14, 2011

Share the Load

In the famous Gospel passage from today's Mass (Matthew 11: 28-30), Jesus speaks of His yoke being easy. The image of a yoke is a very good one for me to use in meditation. There are two uses of yokes, both of which are important to understand. A single yoke is used on an animal so that the weight of a heavy load is spread out over several points, not just where a rope or strap would be wrapped around the animal. In this way it would be much easier to carry. It is similar to the difference between carrying a heavy bag that has very small string or twine to hold or one that weighs the same but has a wider belt to use in carrying it.I think of this sometimes when I have to reevaluate how I am doing a particularly difficult task and try to find a way that is easier.
The second type of yoke is used on two animals. When they are yoked together, the total weight is distributed over them both, and so they are capable of carrying a much greater load than they could separately. You may have seen this sort of yoke used on a team of oxen plowing a field, for example. This is the sort of yoke I like to imagine when I meditate in this passage. I can just picture Jesus walking alongside of me, the two of us connected and working together to carry what are sometimes very heavy burdens. My problems always seem more manageable when I use this image.
The great consolation I receive is that I am not alone. The Lord told us to "learn from me". And there is no better thing to learn that the way He shared the load with His Father. So often we hear of Jesus going to the Father in prayer, and the wonderful consolation He received from this. Most powerfully in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord received the strength to literally carry the cross by making relying on the Father's strength. I need to do the same when I find the crosses of life heavy. Each day I hope we can keep as a "mantra" of sorts the popular phrase "Lord, help me to remember that there is nothing that will happen today that you and I together can't handle!"

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