– 2nd Week of Advent –
‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls’ [Matthew 11:29]
Advent has many facets. Yes, it is a time of spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus. So too it is a time of deep inner renewal focused on hope, love, joy and peace. But today the readings take us into a different space. They invite us to take on the yoke of Christ.
Caught up in the myriad of end of year activities, (I had three Christmas parties last week), plans for annual holidays, and family celebrations, Christmas shopping expeditions and completing a long list of annual work tasks, one can feel utterly exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally. All we want to do is escape and shut down so we can relax.
In this context, taking on the yoke of Christ seems counterintuitive. If we want to experience rest and refreshment, how can taking on another commitment produce what the Scripture promises? The yoke of Christ binds us to one another allowing challenges and burdens to be shared, such that the weight of a task is lightened. We are not meant to carry our burdens alone: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ (Galatians 6:2).
The promise in today’s Isaiah text (Is 40:29-31) mirrors what the Gospel offers: that for those who place their hope in God they will regain their strength such that they will sprout wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and never tire. This rest, refreshment and renewal of our bodies, hearts and minds comes when we surrender to the yoke of Jesus. Rather than being a burden, the yoke of Christ opens our lives to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, bringing a refreshment that no human holiday can match.
God is our true source of hope, love, joy and peace. May this Advent be a time of renewal and refreshment as we embrace the yoke of the Christ child.
By Mike Humphrys