You Are The Example
We are not so much a rural farm area in the sense that most people make their living from a farm. We have many farmers and many farm employees, but when we read in the Bible that Jesus will be riding on a colt or take my yoke upon your shoulders, we must admit, we might not get the same image as what the people of the Bible were thinking at the time.
Let us start with the yoke. When I was quite small, I remember that we had two large horses. At the time, people would gather for a threshing show. We would take the horses to the show to be in the demonstrations. I remember the huge yoke with leather straps and rings that would be placed on their necks. I remember thinking how heavy that yoke was. I understand now that the two horses really need to learn to work together to be most effective. An untrained horse might want to go too fast, straining against the yoke. This will fatigue the horse and the team will not be effective. Or the untrained horse might refuse to work, causing the trained horse to become fatigued and again the team is ineffective. To help the horses learn to work as a team, sometimes the farmer would walk in front of the horses, with his hand resting on the yoke. He could feel which horse was not working hard enough or if one of the horses was just lazy.
In many communities, when people get married, they say that they are yoked or “hitched”. These are old farming terms for the couple now being married. In a sense, they need to learn to work together. They need to learn how to share the responsibilities of married life. I picture the yoke spoken of in the gospel. There is a yoke that Jesus places around the hearts of the married couple. Then Jesus rests His hand gently on that yoke. If we keep Jesus first in our lives, the yoke is light. If we neglect Jesus, the yoke is extremely heavy. When we follow Jesus, we learn to work together. We learn to be accountable to one another. Each person in the marriage has talents and skills. When we combine our talents and skills together, we become a team with Jesus leading us forward. And we learn to be responsible for our actions. If we try to turn away, we break the rhythm of the team. If we go in the wrong direction, we are no longer a team. Being responsible means realizing that we chose to be married and we must focus all our energy to making this marriage work.
Some people think that being free is that they can do anything they want. Rules are for other people but not for them. They feel by taking on the yoke of Jesus they give up their freedom. Taking on the yoke of Jesus means we are responsible for out actions. By following the teachings of Jesus and the ten commandments we are made free. Thinking that freedom allows us to do what ever we want is the sin of licentiousness. The word license is the root of licentiousness and people think they have a license to do what they want. Having a license is not freedom. Wanting and desiring to live a moral, virtuous life is true freedom.
This weekend be the example of true freedom to all people by demonstrating a life of virtue. Let people discover how you are concerned for the common good of all people. Invite people to accept the yoke of Jesus.
May the Lord bless you and keep you safe, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen