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In the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gathers his disciples and chooses 12 whom he designates as apostles. Then Jesus prepares to send them out by teaching them at length about what to do and what to teach. Jesus tells them to expect that some people will reject them. He tells them about coming persecutions and about whom to fear in their mission work. Jesus loads them up with a great deal of information.
I can just imagine the eyes of the apostles glazing over as Jesus is talking to them. I know if it was me, I would be thinking to myself: “What have I gotten myself into? How am I ever going to remember all this?” I would be overwhelmed with feelings of fear and confusion. I would have about a million questions, but I would be afraid to ask them.
Perhaps that is what Jesus is seeing in the faces of his apostles. Maybe Jesus is sensing their terror and confusion. Jesus addresses the fears of his Apostles with the last three verses of chapter eleven in Matthew’s Gospel:
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus reminds his apostles (and reminds us) that we are not in this alone. He uses the imagery of the “yoke”. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Jesus is suggesting to us that when we are feeling overwhelmed and burdened, we need to put on one side of Jesus’ yoke then Jesus will put on the other side. Jesus is saying to us that he is willing to join us in our struggles and toil. He never promises to take our problems away. Jesus promises to lighten our load and help us deal with our problems.
Besides the burden of COVID-19, we each have our share of problems. Maybe we have family issues, or health issues, or money issues and we are feeling like we can’t “do it” any more.
Jesus says: “Let me help! Let me support you! Let me give you rest!”
Peace be with you,