“For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
So go Jesus’ words at the end of today’s passage from St Matthew’s gospel.
The art of making a good yoke was to fashion it so as to fit the neck of each ox just right…not too loose that it moved around and chafed the animal…not so tight that it pinched and made the animal sore. From his carpenter days, Jesus knew how to make a yoke for a team of oxen. He would have measured the animal and tried the yoke several times as he fashioned it. Jesus knows how much we can “bear” and fashions his yoke for us accordingly.
A young ox was often joined in the yoke with an older more-experienced animal. In this way the younger one learned the right pace and manner of working. Initially the yoke would be unequally fashioned so that the older animal would take the major share of work.
When Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon our shoulders, he wants to get work out of us…the particular mission given to each Christian. He wants to fashion the yoke that will be just right for each person. He doesn’t leave us alone to do the work. He is the other experienced “ox” who will accompany us, do the major share of the work and teach us to do our part
On our part, it takes humility to accept being yoked with Jesus. More mature Christians must also have the humility to be willing to take on the major share of any Christian ministry, such as evangelization or any parish task, while younger Christians are learning the “ropes.” Sometimes, the “wise and learned” among us may tend to trust too much in their own wisdom and intelligence, and, thus, not seek the Lord’s guidance.