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HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 9...

Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"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." (From Matthew 11:25-30)

What unnecessary burden might you be carrying?

When I was younger, before I was in the seminary studying to become a priest, I had been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation–Confession–for a while. It’s just where I was at that time in my life. When I finally returned I was in my second or third year of college. I went to a mild-mannered, soft-spoken priest in Texas, where I was in school. He was gentle, kind, and very direct. He was just what I needed at the time. After I shared with him what I needed to share, the first thing he said to me was, “this is a burden that you’ve been carrying for way too long. God no longer wants you to carry it.”When I walked out of his office that day, I knew 2 things: I knew that I had experienced genuine relief and peace. I also knew that, with that release from my burden, there came a responsibility. What was I going to do with what I had been given? Within the context of today’s Gospel reading, I had been invited to lay down one burden (or “yoke”) and take up another. I was being asked to lay down the burden that constrained me and weighed me down and take up the yoke of Christ.

The “yoke” of Jesus is not a burden. It does not weigh us down. It lifts us up and gives us strength, courage, and confidence. His “yoke” is His Word and His way. It is our anchor, our only sure thing in this life. Too often in life we take up and carry yokes that are not life giving. We attach ourselves to something or someone and let them take us over. These types of yokes can bring us down emotionally, spiritually, and, in some cases, even physically. Sometimes there may be an emotional or mental hindrance involved, but most of the time, more than likely, we freely choose to “yoke ourselves to” things that drain the life right out of us. So, if we want to, we can consider a few basic questions; like: what unnecessary burden might you be carrying right now? Today?What are you “yoked” to? From what burden or yoke do you need rest?

Bitterness and hardness of heart...

Resting in anger and resentment, rather than forgiveness...

An unhealthy behavior, with which we may need help...

Are we “yoked to”: our work, our money, our things...

Something that we need to let go of in order to have peace...

I heard a priest say on a retreat one year, that, “many people want the rest but not the yoke.” Letting go of what weighs us down does offer us rest and peace. But with it there does come a responsibility. It’s not a mandate. It’s not a directive. It is simply an invitation offered to us by Christ. He is asking us to come to him, to lay down our burden, and to freely take up his. The way to find rest and comfort is to lose our burden at the cross and allow Christ to put his burden and yoke upon us instead. Freedom is not found in avoiding or discarding the yoke of Christ; it's found in losing our own.