Gospel Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Yoke of Love (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)

In our province, farmers already use one horse power machines for agricultural farming. But we still see carabaos used by farmers to plow agricultural land. The carabao like any beast of burden has a yoke mounted on its neck and extended to a part of its back. The yoke must fit well the carabao‘s neck and back for the right balance and motion when the farmer drives and controls the carabao during farming.

The Lord said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) This invitation to come to Him was also a critical remark against the Scribes and Pharisees who imposed the heavy burden of the precepts of their religion on themselves and on others. For them, the yoke of the law was a rigid burden to follow. But this yoke did not fit well in striking a balance between what they said and what they did. There was no harmony in their words and their deeds.

When Jesus invites us to come to Him, he tells us that His yoke is easy because His yoke is love. His commandment of love fits any human condition well. Isn‘t it easier to love than to hate? My thoughts go back to the time when I was a teenager. I remember my parents obliging all of us to attend the Holy Week open retreat sponsored by the Christian Family Movement the whole morning, of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday. I can never forget my first open retreat then. The priest told us to express our love to our parents. He asked: “When was the last time you said ‘I love you’ to your mom and dad?” Then he challenged all sons and daughters present to go to their parents and tell them I love you with a kiss and a hug. I really cried when I went to my parents and said those words with hugs and kisses. It was the first time in my life I felt how much my parents love me and how much I love them. At that time, I saw that I was not alone. Along with other sons and daughters, crying, hugging and kissing their parents, I felt love overflowing in the recollection hall. I thank the Lord that, at least, once in my lifetime, I was able to say I love you to my mom and dad. My dad passed away a couple of years ago and I am consoled that he was able to hear these words from me. And my mom who is still alive knows how much I love her.

Jesus‘ burden is light because it is carried in the spirit of love. Whatever we do, however difficult it is, as long as it is done in love, we will not mind the weight of the task. A priest once shared a story about a young boy carrying a little child on his back. A man saw him and said: “You carry a big burden on your back.”The boy replied, “He is not a burden. He is my brother!”

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