The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Homily
In today’s Scripture readings we see, “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.”
Indra Nooyi is the CEO of PepsiCo. In a recent and frank interview, she talked about the challenges of balancing the responsibilities of running a huge, multi-national corporation with being a daughter, wife and mother. She related a story on when she announced her promotion as CEO to her mother:
I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news for you.” She said, “Let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?”
I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, “What time did he get home?” She said, “8:00.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” […] She said, just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.
I banged it on the counter and I said, “I had great news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?”
And she said to me, “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.”
Is this a burden that is light? Is this a yoke that is easy? So, in what sense is Christ’s yoke easy and his burden light?
The world looks for strength in:
- the ability to control,
- in wealth,
- the ability to own and accumulate possessions,
- in developing advantages over others,
- in superior education, prestigious positions of politics or employment
- in feats of athletic achievement.
Author and former Spring Hill College theology professor, Gerald Darring writes that:
“Maybe we continue to suffer so many miseries because we look for answers in the wrong places. We look “up” at the rich and powerful, expecting to find strength and security, and we are disillusioned with “empty promises of passing joy.
Revelation presents a different picture. It introduces us to a messiah who is “meek, and riding on an ass.” It wants us to believe that our strength is in a man whose boast is that “I am gentle and humble of heart.” It praises God for contradicting the wisdom of the world: “for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.”
Carpenters used to make a yoke by hand to fit the animal that would wear it. Is your “yoke” handmade for you? Does it fit? Does it feel comfortable? Does it allow you to go about your daily tasks efficiently and comfortably? If NOT, it’s probably not the one that Christ made for you. So whose yoke are you wearing? Who made it? Who put it on you?
To see why Christ’s saying really is true, consider the condition Christ sets for getting the gift he offers of an easy yoke and a light burden: “Come to me,” he says.
“to come to someone is to let that person come into you, your life, your space. It is to be open to that person and to let that person make a difference to what you yourself will be and will desire, will do. This is NOT a safe place generally speaking. It exposes you. It opens you to have to change things. It encourages and maybe even forces you to give up stuff, to do things differently. But when the person to whom you come is Christ himself, the vulnerability and change and sacrifice which openness to Christ demands is more than matched by the love Christ provides (… in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property–along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. Mark 10:30)
Let’s close with St. Augustine: Solomon had built a temple to the Lord – a prototype and an image of the future Church, the Lord’s body. Solomon of history had built that first temple, our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Solomon, built a temple for himself. The name ‘Solomon’ means ‘Bringer of Peace’, and our Lord, the true Solomon, is the true bringer of peace, which is why the Apostle says, “He is the true bringer of peace.”
Scripture shows us another Solomon, by beginning a psalm with the words, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Psalm 127) So the Lord builds the house. Many labor to build it, but if Christ is not the architect of your yoke, in vain have you labored.
We all rush around, we all labor, we all build; and before us, others rushed, labored, built; but unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. For this reason, when they saw some of the people fail, the Apostles, and Paul himself wept over these others because he had worked among them to no avail.
Christ builds inside. But how well do you listen? What do you think of? He alone knows your thoughts, your hopes, your dreams, your desires for which you labor. It is He who builds, He who gives advice, He who opens the understanding, He who directs your perceptions and also leads you to believe in Him – so that your yoke will be easy and your burden light.