Why Jesus’ Yoke is Easy

6 July 2008 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zechariah 9, 9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8, 9-13; Matthew 11, 2-30

Let us relate the readings today. The reading from Zechariah tells us of the coming of an earthly king who establishes peace among his people after a divine victory. He is described as riding in an ‘ass’ (and not a horse). In aggressive activity, warriors ride horses, but not an asses. When one rides an ass, as Jesus rode an ass in His entry to Jerusalem, it was a sign, not of meekness as common interpretation has it, but of peacefulness. It is important to notice that it is the king who comes to His people and gives them peace. This is what God is for us: our intimate relationship with God began as God’s gift, initiative and offer. And only when we accept his offer to make us His adopted children can we gain peace.

The Gospel tells us about the relationship of Jesus and his Father. He addresses His Father with a typical Jewish blessing (“I give praise to you”) but added the intimate “Abba” (Father) which rabbis do not do. And Jesus invites everyone to come to him, the giver of rest, comfort and peace. He said that His yoke is much, much lighter than the yoke of the Pharisees. The rabbis spoke of the yoke of the Torah or the Law. The rabbis had many interpretations of the law that it became a burden to many, following every single detailed interpretation by the rabbis. Jesus however offers a simple and quantitatively easy teaching because it is shorter and centered on the essential. In fact, it is easy to remember the two cardinal rules that cover all other commandments: love God and love one’s neighbor. Short and sweet.

However, Jesus’ law is qualitatively demanding because loving God and one’s neighbor are inexhaustible. The disciple then becomes a life-long learner about how these commandments are concretely lived. In fact, as history unfolds, these two basic and essential laws require new interpretations and applications.

Jesus’ simple and essential commandments make us active interpreters. Our Christian faith affirms that we can personally interpret the Scriptures and appropriate it in our lives. We all believe that the Spirit dwells in us and it is this Spirit that enables us to be faithful to these commandments, while searching the best way to live them in our own context. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that the Spirit is the new principle of Christian vitality. It is the Spirit that gives us life. It is the Spirit that animates and activate the Christian and makes one a child of God. Therefore, we are active learners equipped to interpret Scriptures through bible studies and reflection. The privilege is given simply because we are children of God. Just as Jesus taught us to have that intimate relationship with God with every “Our Father” we recite, every prayer and spiritual activity enables us to appropriate the teachings of Jesus in our lives while keeping the simple and essential commandment unchanged.

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