Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In a moment that seems to be borrowed from John’s Gospel, we catch Jesus at prayer, exclaiming His praise to the Father in His usual somewhat riddlesome way. Then, as though Jesus notices we are watching, He quickly changes tracks, giving us the oft-assuring passage regarding the lightness of His yoke. How can we see the two passages as being connected? “…learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…”
Jesus is the Son of God; being the Son of God necessitates having a parent of some sort and, being also human, Jesus has two: one being Mary whom we rightly love and venerate and the other being the Father of whom Jesus often speaks, as He does in today’s Gospel. Mankind’s deepest desire is to know and love the Father, but we cannot come to know Him by our own efforts; Jesus attests to this when He says, “…no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.” How is it that Jesus makes the Father known to us? He tells us in John 15:9, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” We come to know the Father precisely by considering how it is that Jesus has loved us.
This is why in the next verses of our Gospel today Jesus goes from praying to the Father to talking to us about yokes and learning. He invites us to look upon Him, to see the Heart with which He loves us—one that is meek and humble before the Father—and to learn from His example. We labor and are burdened because of our fallen nature; it is a result of our ancestor’s sin that tore us away from the Father in the first place. Remember what God says to Eve after the Fall? “I will intensify your toil in childbearing…your urge shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam? “Cursed is the ground because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life…by the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread…” (Gen. 3:16-19) To be separated from God, to prop yourself up in God’s place is to labor and be burdened; to be meek and humble before God, to surrender to His love and providence is to find rest. This is the yoke of which Christ speaks: the yoke of obedience to the Father, the yoke that He Himself wears. Does He not say, “I have food of which you do not know…my food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work?” (John 4:32, 34) This is bread He obtains without sweating a single drop.
To trust entirely in the will of God, to submit to perfect obedience to the Father is to find rest from our every burden and worry. Jesus invites each of us to join Him beneath that yoke, to become children of God ourselves and find comfort in the Father’s love. This week we will see what this love looks like and how we, as Christians, must also help the rest of the world come to know the love of the Father, loving others as the Father has loved us.