“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…” Our gospel this week speaks of those who labor and are burdened, but it is a particular burden he is speaking to – the burden of the laws and expectations – particularly from the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious – placed on others. Hostility toward Jesus and his disciples is building even as the disciples prepare to go out to share his message. It is a message of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness that is at odds with the ‘norms’ of society. Take my yoke upon you he tells them. His yoke is that yoke of mercy and forgiveness fueled by unconditional love. He promises that if we do, we will have a safe landing (eternal life in heaven), but he does not promise smooth sailing for the trip. He has taken our sins upon himself that our load under his yoke is lightened and rest comes to us.
As Vincentians, we are called to lighten the burdens of those whom we minister to. Sometimes they are burdened by unjust laws and economic systems. Sometimes they are burdened by judgements of their decisions and discrimination in all forms. Sometimes they are burdened by their own mistakes, lack of confidence and self-esteem, and lack of a support system. How do we lighten their load? Do we offer to them a yoke of mercy, compassion and forgiveness to overcome the rigidity of expectations? Do we offer them a better way that they might learn from us while we walk with them and give them rest?
We give praise to you Father, lord of heaven and earth. Just as your son took upon himself the burden of our sins and transgressions, without question or hesitation, allow us to lighten the load of those whom you bring to us. Let us always offer them first your son Jesus that they may come to know the source of all love and mercy. As he has offered his yoke to us – a yoke of love compassion, mercy and forgiveness – let us find the courage to offer the same to others. Let us find ways to bring them hope by walking with them as we seek relief for them both from unjust systems as well as burdensome circumstances. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen