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The Gentle Mastery of Christ
Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
“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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to labor for you while I am able and rest in you for eternity.
- Labor and Rest: In a culture that knows both activity and leisure, the terms labor and rest already have their own connotation. But what do labor and rest mean for the Christian? After the creation of all things, the Lord rested. In Exodus 20:8-10 God commands that we not work on the Sabbath. His command was given within the context of keeping holy the Lord’s day. In Mark 6:31 Jesus told his Apostles to come away to a quiet place to rest. Throughout the Scriptures we find the purpose of rest as a means to center our hearts on God. In him alone we find true rest. All labor is oriented toward this ultimate goal.
- To What and Whom Are We “Yoked”?: Rest comes not from shaking off the yoke, but from knowing whom we walk beside as we embrace the yoke. As oxen are yoked two by two, so too does Jesus invite us to be yoked, not to the things of the world, nor to activity in itself, but to him, in all we possess and do. Are we aware of the yoke to which we are bound? Walking yoked to Christ gives a new faith perspective. It orders the direction in which we travel and the company that we keep. Being yoked to Jesus keeps our gaze on what is essential in the light of eternity. And we remember that the ultimate rest comes from striving to live upright lives and entering into the fullness of rest in union with God. As Isaiah preached, “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:2, NIV).
- Hope of Attaining the Promised Rest: The author of Hebrews reminds us of a promise and a task that belongs to us as sojourners. “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:1-4, NIV). The Scripture passage calls us to listen and heed the good news to accept the promised rest for ourselves. The promise is a gift, conditioned by our willingness to receive it in living faith. Do we see the yoke as a burden, or as a gift to allow the grace of God to enter and shape all areas of our lives? Conscious of the gift of being “yoked” in faith to the Lord Jesus, let us foster a spirit of gratitude to see the promise and the task as the gift that it is.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I desire to accept the yoke that you offer me. Help me not to fear, but to see that walking with you in faith is a gift that leads to eternal rest, in union with you, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the times you lead me, carry me, and guide me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will approach the difficult tasks and encounters remembering that you stand with me and next to me. I will ask for your grace to have my heart centered on you as I strive to fulfill my daily Christian duty.
For Further Reflection: Overwhelmed? Fr. Mike Schmitz.