Delighted to run across a wonderful blog by an old friend and classmate, Dr. Eric Johnston, a seminary professor living with his large family in Newark.
The Catholic Spiritual Life is a peaceful and informative blog, something like either liturgical spirituality, or spiritual theology–drawing theological truth from all those wonderful sources that we have available to us as Catholics. All of these sources of truth bear upon one another, and we can be caught up in their dynamism, and filled with the living Word of God.
At last we return to our orderly reading of Matthew – and see how beautiful are the ordinary words of the Gospel.
“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.”
Such words are like balm. They are really worth reading and hearing just to bathe in them. Such a beautiful reminder that none of our pious meditations can equal the healing power of God’s word.
But let us come to him, and learn! These words teach us even more when we read them in context. The Lectionary is good enough to give us the verses that immediately proceed.
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. . . . No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
The two halves of this paragraph illumine one another. Not by strength does man prevail. It’s not human wisdom that discovers the love of the Father. It’s a gift, through Jesus Christ.
And this is the deeper meaning of “take my yoke upon you.” The “rest” he gives us is precisely knowledge of the Father. This is the cure to our labors and burdens.
We have to take his “yoke” upon us. But this doesn’t mean hard work. To the contrary, it means being so assimilated to him that we let him be our all – let Jesus be the source of our strength, and learn from him to receive everything from the Father. That’s the true meaning of meekness.
And meekness is a “yoke” – a challenge to our self-sufficient ways, requiring a real change of behavior – but also “easy,” because what we learn is precisely that we don’t have to be self-sufficient.