There is a wonderful legend concerning the quiet years of Jesus, the years prior to his visible ministry. The legend claims that Jesus the carpenter was one of the master yoke-makers in the Nazareth area. People came from miles around for a yoke, hand carved and crafted by Jesus son of Joseph.
When customers arrived with their team of oxen Jesus would spend considerable time measuring the team, their height, the width, the space between them, and the size of their shoulders. Within a week, the team would be brought back and he would carefully place the newly made yoke over the shoulders, watching for rough places, smoothing out the edges and fitting them perfectly to this particular team of oxen.
That's the yoke Jesus invites us to take. Do not be misled by the word "easy," for its root word in Greek speaks directly of the tailor-made yokes: they were "well-fitting." The yoke Jesus invites us to take, the yoke that brings rest to weary souls, is one that is made exactly to our lives and hearts. The yoke he invites us to wear fits us well, does not rub us nor cause us to develop sore spirits and is designed for two. His yokes were always designed for two. And our yoke-partner is none other than Christ himself...
A mother was preparing breakfast for her two-year-old daughter. She asked the toddler, "What would you like for breakfast--a bagel or a bowl of cereal?"
The little girl answered, "Chocolate."
"No," her mother replied, "You can't have chocolate for breakfast. Do you want a bagel or cereal?"
Again the little girl said, "Chocolate."
Slightly exasperated, the mother said, "No, honey. You can't have my chocolate until after lunch. Now what do you want . . .a bagel or cereal?"
The little girl said with a grin, "Lunch!" (as told by Don Colbert, What Would Jesus Eat? , 145).
And then it happened... Robert Raines saw one of the most beautiful things he had ever witnessed in his life.
Right there at the very edge of that great mountain peak and facing the gorgeous valley below... was a young man in his early twenties with a trumpet pressed to his lips. And, do you know what he was playing? With his lungs expanded fully and releasing all of the energy in his soul, he was playing the Doxology on his trumpet!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
The point is clear: With all the stresses and problems in this life, still the truth is:
- We have so many doxologies to sing,
- So much to be grateful for,
- So many blessings to count.
The point is: Life is more than a grueling endurance test. Life is more than a survival game. Life is more than a coping competition.
So, you see... it's not enough to just escape the stress. It's not enough to just endure the stress. Thank God... there is another option...
James W. Moore, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
Now Jesus comes along to say that wisdom and intelligence did not cut the mustard when it comes to knowing God. Not only is the yoke not to be resisted, we are to voluntarily take this yoke upon ourselves and surrender to one who is greater than us!
Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
Seventh, look at a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes.
Eighth, obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech.
Ninth, reject anything that will breed the oppression of others.
Tenth, shun whatever would distract you from you main goal: "Seek first the kingdom of God."
The king asked his royal subjects, "What is the sweetest melody of all?" Early the next morning they gathered all sorts of musicians. The sound awoke the king and all morning he listened to their tunes. But, after listening to all of them he could not tell which was the sweetest sound. Finally, one subject suggested they all play together. It was so noisy the king couldn't think.
About that moment a woman, dressed in her Sunday best, pushed to the front of the crowd and stepped forward. "O, king," she said, "I have the answer to your question." The king was surprised since she had no instrument. "Why didn't you come earlier?" he asked. She replied, "I had to wait until the setting of the sun." The musicians were still playing and the king told them all to stop.
The woman then took two candles and placed them on the king's balcony rail. She lit them just as the sun continued to set. The flames glowed in the evening darkness. She then lifted her voice and said, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, Our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with the commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights." She then said, "He who has an ear, let him hear."
Everyone was completely still. "What is that?" asked the king." He could not hear a sound. The woman then replied, "What you hear is the sound of rest, the sweetest melody of all."
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is also the sweetest sound any of us can hear.
1. 1: “Lord, I've done the best I can.”
Pope St. John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council days used to submit all his anxieties to God by this prayer every night: “Lord, Jesus, I’m going to bed. It's your Church. Take care of it!” The President Dwight David Eisenhower knew about that inner rest derived from submitting daily lives to God. He had it even while he was the leader of armed forces in World War II. His every decision during that awful conflict had monumental consequences. How did he deal with the pressure? Ike shared with his former pastor, Dean Miller that he didn't try to carry his burden alone. Some nights when the strain became too great, Eisenhower would simply pray, "Lord, with your grace I've done the best I can. You take over until morning." And he understood very well Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).
10. "My yokes fit well."
14. Pacifier for stress:
Have you heard about the farmer who went to a government bureaucrat specializing in animal health? The farmer sought help from the “expert” because ten of his chickens had suddenly died. The government expert instructed the farmer to give aspirin to all the surviving chickens. Two days later, however, the farmer returned. Twenty more chickens had died. What should he do now? The expert said quickly: “Give all the rest castor oil.” Two days later, the farmer returned a third time and reported 30 more dead chickens. The government expert now strongly recommended penicillin. Two days later a sad farmer showed up. All the rest of his chickens had now died. They were all gone. “What a shame,” said the expert, “I have lots more remedies!” The world offers many so-called remedies to the problem of stress: - Get away - Run away - Fly away - Take a pill to ease your nerves - Take a drink to drown your sorrows - Take a shot to kill the pain - Get drunk, take drugs, sleep a lot. But the truth is most of them don’t work. Jesus prescribes just one remedy for stress: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
"There was a poor widow who had two daughters and who owned a field. When she began to plough, Moses said to her through his Law, `You must not plough with an ox and an ass together.' When she began to sow, the Law said, `You must not sow your field with mingled seed.' When she began to reap and to make stacks of corn, it said,
`When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it' (Deut.24:19), and `you shall not reap your field to its very border' (Lev.19:9). When she began to thresh, the law said, `Give me the heave-offering, and the first and second tithe.' She accepted the ordinance and gave them all to God.
19. “Do you have any idea who I am?" (Tony Kadavil)
The Los Angeles Times published the story of a commercial airline flight cancellation which resulted in a long line of travelers trying to get bookings on another flight. One man in the line grew increasingly impatient with the slow-moving line. At last, he pushed his way to the front and angrily demanded a first-class ticket on the next available flight. "I’m sorry," said the ticket agent, “First I’ll have to take care of the people who were ahead of you in the line." The irate man then pounded his fist on the ticket counter, saying, "Do you have any idea who I am?" Whereupon, the ticket agent picked up the public address microphone and said, "Attention, please! There is a gentleman at the ticket counter who does not know who he is. If there is anyone in the airport who can identify him, please come to the counter." Hearing this, the man retreated, and the people waiting in line burst into applause. We are like this man. We have forgotten how to wait patiently. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to learn his meekness and humility. (Tony Kadavil)
20. ”Veni, vidi, dormivi”:
National Public Radio had a story about a club that has been formed at a high school in Greenwich, Connecticut. The club is called the Power Nap Club! A group of students go to a room at the end of the school day where they turn off the lights, put their heads on their desks, plug in a tape of quiet classical music, and take what they call a “power nap” for about a half hour. “Their club tee-shirts are decorated with a cardinal (the school mascot), wearing a little nightcap on his head. Inscribed on the tee-shirt is a new version of an old Latin motto, ‘Veni, vidi, dormivi: I came, I saw, I slept!’ The club was formed not because these are lazy high school students, but exactly the reverse. These kids are going to school all day, participating in sports, volunteering in the community, going to church or mosque or synagogue, and holding down part-time jobs. They’re exhausted. And they’ve learned that just a little nap makes all the difference in the world” (Carlton Young). In today’s gospel, Jesus says to us and to them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
My Mother taught me Humility:
Indra Nooyi from Chennai, India is the fifth CEO in PepsiCo's 44-year history. She recounted the day 14 years ago when she was told that she would be made president of PepsiCo and be named to the board of directors.
She said she was "overwhelmed" but her mother's reaction was, she said, "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk."
Ms Nooyi recalled her mother telling her, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house."
"You know I've never seen that crown," the corporate honcho said.
Come to me all those who are burdened....