What is a yoke? A yoke is an apparatus used to harness someone in order to do work. For animals, it is placed on two of them and the plow is in the middle. Usually a farmer would place an older animal with a younger one and that would help temper and train the younger animal. This understanding of the yoke makes more sense for the Gospel today when we think of the yoke as shared by the Lord, that He is pulling on the other side and we, the young animal, is tempered and guided by the Lord through our daily work.
Many of us can relate to times in our lives when we felt the pressure of life and felt it was overwhelming and we questioned how the Lord could say that His yoke was easy and His burden light. However, if we reflect back we see that we were not yoked with the Lord, and we did not carry His burden with Him but rather carried our own by ourselves and that is why. As the young animal in the yoke who tried to run ahead felt the heavy burden of the plow, trying to pull the older and stronger animal, we, too, experience the burden of trying to pull the Lord or trying to do it without Him. How do we stay with the Lord every day and merely share in His burden, rather than bearing the crushing weight of the extra burden? We must spend time in prayer with our Lord and give Him the burden. He will show you what you need to carry and what you can let go of.
I was reflecting about the great promises in the Creed that we recite each Sunday. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the dead.” Look at these beautiful things that are all meant to lift our burdens. “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is like Google on steroids. Google gives you information along with a whole pile of junk. The Holy Spirit not only gives you information, He gives you the right information at the right time. With Google you scroll through the junk to get the gem. The Holy Spirit gives you the right knowledge, wisdom and understanding at the exact right time. We Catholics should not say “Google it” but “Holy Spirit it.” This should give us great comfort, firstly because the Holy Spirit is called the comforter, and secondly because we always have the answer. Once a father told me about the woes of his son, how he was going astray. I asked him if he had ever thought to ask the Holy Spirit to guide him in parenting, to father his son as he needs to be fathered. Having the Holy Spirit makes our burden light because there is always a solution to our problems through the Holy Spirit. As an added bonus, we also by talking to Him, get to be with God who radiates His love on us when we are with Him.
The next comfort is, “the Holy Catholic Church.” The Catholic Church is an institution for time and eternity; a family where people never die but can simply go to heaven and pray and love us from there. Isn’t it amazing that you and I can have millions of people - saints, angels and people in purgatory - praying for us at any moment. We are always dancing with the stars as Catholics, if we so choose. The most famous and influential people are our brothers and sisters and they can’t wait to hang out with us, pray for us and show us love. Not just that but in the Church we are reminded of God’s great love for us and how He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place. The Church adopts us, cleanses us of sin, feeds us, heals us, gives us power to share in God’s work, blesses our lives with marriage, priesthood and religious life. Not only that but, if you choose, you can come here and be in the throne room of God. We leave our Church open each day. This is where we should come to order our lives. Our churches should be full each day of people seeking to be with God, to hear Him and experience Him. It should be a great comfort that the Catholic Church will always be here for us and generations to come. It is really amazing that people aren’t coming in droves to be here to share in such blessings.
“The communion of saints.” I have already mentioned the huge blessing we have in the saints. Get to know them, read their lives, enjoy their intercession and their love.
“The forgiveness of sins.” Yes, it is true that our sins were not made to define us but they are able to be forgiven and we can be free. I remember a lady, Wendy, who was a convert to the faith. When she discovered Confession she could not stop telling people about it because she felt so free. I recall stories of the old days when the school children were coming to Confession each week. They had to stop doing it in the morning because the teachers said that after Confession the students were nearly climbing the walls, so free did they feel. If you haven’t gone for a while, please do. You will never regret removing sin. It is a great grace that Jesus’ death obtained for us. Not to receive that grace is to not accept the greatest gift in the world.
“The resurrection of the dead.” Yes, the dead rise back. Wow, isn’t that a comfort?! Not even death has a real sting anymore with belief in the resurrection. Of course we are sad when someone dies, but not inconsolable because they can rise, they are alive and still part of our lives. Yes, we believe in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting. It is a consolation that this isn’t all there is and really woe to the one who thinks it is. There is a place where things are right, where there is love and joy and peace without end and we believe in that.
Each Sunday we are reminded why our yoke is easy and our burden is light by remembering what God has done. Our burdens are light when we see the different ways Christ helps us carry them.