by Mr. Kevin Fahey
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.” Please give us the strength and courage to yoke ourselves to the men and women that are serving time in prison. Let us be like You and make their burden light and give them rest. Fill our heart and soul with Your Holy Spirit so that we may know what to do and how to serve the imprisoned. We ask this through Your Son, our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen
Reflection: (By Don Schwager)
“What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, and the yoke of God. Jesus says His yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites us to be yoked with Him, to unite our life with His life, our will with His will, and our heart with His heart. To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with Him in a relationship of love, trust, and obedience.
Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says His “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, He also carries our burdens with us and gives us His strength to follow in His way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus’ presence and walking daily with Him along the path He has for you?
Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory with Him. The yoke, which Jesus invites us to embrace, is His way of love, grace, and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God’s love and submit to His will and plan for your life?”
Can you imagine spending the rest of your life or even a week in a 6’X4’ cell block room? Can you imagine living in a cell block room, in a prison, with no privacy and feeling alone, cold and sad? Can you imagine being convicted of a crime that you did not commit and then have to live with the horror and pain the rest of your life? Can you imagine the sorrow of someone in prison, who has made amends with God and has been rehabilitated, but still feels less than human? We need to share our yoke with them and make their burden light just as Jesus does for us.
“When you have finished your work, do your brother’s, helping him, for Christ’s sake, so tactfully and naturally that no one – not even he- will realize that you are doing more than what in justice you ought. This, indeed, is virtue befitting a son of God.” (J.Escriva, The Way, 440)
We should always try to relieve others from whatever seems to weigh them down, just as Christ would have done in our place. Sometimes this means doing a small act of service like writing a letter to a prisoner, saying a decade of the rosary nightly on their behalf, or going to visit someone in prison. We need to encourage them and give them hope. “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)