In todays’ gospel, Jesus uses the image of a yoke upon the shoulders of oxen to teach us how he will give rest to those who are burdened. In this post-modern world, it is difficult for us to understand the symbolic meaning of this image since we don’t live in a time of non-mechanical agriculture. He tells us:
“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,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
How could taking on the role of a beast of burden represent rest from our burdens? It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? Well, actually it would, if we had the mindset of someone living in first century Palestine. You see, in those times fields were ploughed by two oxen tied to the same double yoke. So what Jesus is telling us is that by seeking him and putting on his yoke, what we really are getting is the ultimate ploughing partner. Not only will Jesus relieve our life burdens by pulling alongside us, he will do the lion’s share of the pulling.
How cool is that?