FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle A/Year I (July 9, 2017)
Zec 9:9-10/ Rom 8:9, 11-13/ Mt 11:25-30
William Barclay said that according to a legend, Jesus Christ was the best ox-yoke maker. Jesus made the best ox-yokes in all Galilee, and that from all over the country men came to him to buy the best yokes that skill could make. The sign of the shop of Jesus was “My yokes fit well.” When Jesus said “My yoke is easy,” it simply meant that the yoke of Jesus fit well. If the yoke does not fit the ox, the ox will find it hard to carry the loads. On the other hand, if the yoke fits well the ox, then it is easy for the ox to carry heavy loads.
Whether the legend is true or not, the message behind the legend and the words of Jesus is that the yoke or the task or cross that Jesus is giving us only fits us. This means that we cannot request God to remove the yoke that He made only for us and then give it to others because the yoke will not fit others. It is designed only for us. We must be the ones to carry it. But we should not worry since if God has designed the yoke only for us, then we are certainly able to carry our cross. God will not give us a cross that we cannot carry.
Any cross is always difficult to carry. If we carry the cross by our selves, then we will find it very hard and heavy. But Jesus told us that if we want to follow Him, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. This means that the first step in carrying our cross is to deny ourselves. Self-denial means a restraint or limitation of one’s own desires or interests. It means death to selfishness and sinfulness. It also means prioritizing the will and plans of God over our will and plans.
The second is when we carry the cross, we have to follow Jesus. This means that we must follow the teachings of Jesus and observe all of His commandments. Jesus has a lot of teachings that we can find in the gospels, such as love God, love your neighbor, love your enemies, forgive those who harm you, pray for those who persecute you, do to others what you would have them do to you, etc. Observing these teachings of Jesus is what it means to carry the cross. It may seem very difficult. The truth is, indeed, it is difficult to carry the cross. But we have to remember that we are following Jesus and Jesus will never abandon us. As long as we follow Jesus, He will always be there to guide us in our way and to help us carry the cross.
Consequently, Jesus commands us in the gospel: “Take my yoke upon you” (Mt 11:29a). He commands us to carry the cross which He has given to us because His yoke is easy. We can carry our cross because it is designed exactly for us and because Jesus is helping us. Being faithful to the teachings of Jesus will then lead us not only to peace and harmony in this world but also to eternal salvation. We need to learn from Jesus. Jesus’ cross led Him towards His glorification as the Lord of Heaven and Earth. There is no other way to heaven except the way of Christ, the cross. If we carry our cross and follow Jesus, we know that even though we may suffer in this world, we will always reach eternal salvation and have fullness of life.