Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday in the 15th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
The Yoke of a Second Childhood

Readings: Exodus 3:13-20; Psalm 105:1 and 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27; Mathew 11:28-30

Yesterday our readings led us to reflect upon what we referred to as a second childhood. What does this mean? What difference is there between a second childhood and the first one? How does one enter into this second childhood? Our readings today offer us an opportunity to reflect a little more deeply upon these questions.

To begin with, we might consider the very consoling words of today’s gospel as the Lord’s invitation to us to enter into a second childhood. We find this a plausible conclusion to draw especially when we consider whom Jesus is addressing. He isn’t speaking to those who are blissfully free from responsibilities, those who might still be in their first childhood. His concern, at least in this passage, is for all you who labour and are overburdened. His invitation is for all those of us who might be anxious and stressed out to come to me… shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…

Does this mean we are to return to the bliss of a first childhood? Does this mean that we are to relinquish all our responsibilities and be freed from every yoke? Or are we not being invited instead to shoulder the yoke of Christ? And let us be honest. Doesn’t this yoke often seem a much larger one? Consider what Moses is being called to do in the first reading. He too is being called to enter a second childhood, to trust in the God who encounters him in the burning bush. And in this call is also an invitation to take upon himself the responsibility, the yoke, not only of confronting Pharaoh and demanding the release of the Hebrew people, but also of seeing them safely into a land where milk and honey flow. How does this new responsibility compare with tending his father-in-law’s flock in Midian?

Even so, Jesus reassures us that my yoke is easy and my burden light. And God does the same for Moses in the first reading. Large as this new yoke might seem, God promises Moses that he will not have to bear it alone. I shall show my power, says the Lord, and strike Egypt with all the wonders I am going to work there. Incredible as these words might seem, God invites Moses to trust that they will indeed come to past, because of who God is, this I AM who is calling and sending him. This is none other than the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. In other words, this is a God with an impeccable track record. This is a God who has always been steadfast in showing mercy and compassion to their forefathers, a God who has always kept God's promises. This is the One whose yoke we are invited to shoulder, the Divine Parent, into whose gentle arms we are invited to enter.

How might we respond to this invitation to come to Christ and shoulder his yoke today?

1 comment:

  1. It is hard when reading the sermon not to recall the image of Simon being forced by the soldiers to help Christ carry the cross. I think it is said his reaction was "Why me?"

    I'm sure Simon had his own burdens to shoulder but on this day, Christ's cross is thrust upon him and he journeys part way with the Lord, sharing the pain & hate, shouldering the yoke of the passion.

    Oddly enough having read today's Word, I wonder if after the ordeal, Simon felt that his own burdens had somehow become lighter? That in bearing another's burden, he had been touched and Christ now helps him lift the weight off his own yoke.