The Yoke of Christ
Jesus was preaching to the crowds when He said, “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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
In the context of Matthew’s Gospel, those who “labor and are burdened” were the people who were burdened by the Old Law as taught and imposed by the scribes and the Pharisees; Jesus said, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:4). Therefore, Jesus calls the people to come to Him, to take His yoke upon them and to learn from Him. This call applies not only to the people whom Jesus was preaching to in the Gospels, but to all of us.
What, then, is this yoke, and why would Jesus say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light? Some commentaries say that the yoke of Christ represents submission to His authority; others say that it is obedience to His word. Some even say that it could even be discipleship. Whichever it is, why is it that some people find it difficult and burdensome, while others find it easy and light?
Jesus perfected the Old Law by teaching the people that obedience to the commandments must come about with metanoia, which is a spiritual conversion that involves a complete change of mind and heart. For example, a person talks unkindly behind people’s backs time and again. But after having a conversion experience, the person had a complete change of mind and heart, and stops doing it. That is metanoia. Metanoia begins by recognizing that Jesus’ call as an expression of His love, and by responding to it. Jesus calls us because He loves us, and He wants what is best for us; He will always be there alongside us in our journey of life.
Metanoia is an ongoing process that involves a person’s free will, which means that a person freely chooses to live according to Christ and God’s commandments – one follows Christ, not because he is forced to do so, but because he wants to. The driving force in metanoia is love, and that is why it enables us to have a loving relationship with Christ. With metanoia, our spiritual conversion may not happen overnight, and it could be a life-long process marked with milestones along the way. These milestones may be big or small events in a person’s life; nonetheless, they all give us encouragement as we walk the path towards God’s kingdom.
With metanoia, our submission to Christ’s authority, our obedience to His word and to the commandments, and our discipleship all become a yoke that is easy and light – following Christ is no longer a burden, but a delight. Psalm 119 attests to this: “LORD, teach me the way of your statutes; I shall keep them with care. Give me understanding to keep your law, to observe it with all my heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my delight.” (Psalm 119:33-35) Blessed indeed are those who come to the Lord Jesus for deliverance from wrath and guilt, from sin and Satan, from all our fears and sorrows. In vain do we try to draw near to Jesus, if our hearts are far from Him.
Fr. Bill wishes to thank all those who have helped with our 4th of July BBQ. It is so heartening to see so many volunteers bring all kinds of food to share, bring and prepare the BBQ, set up the social hall, prepare the grill, cook the BBQ, stay behind to clean up the social hall and bathrooms, take care of the trash and do so many other things behind the scenes. Most importantly, because of your hard work, everyone had fun and great fellowship. May God bless you all.
Fr. Bill would also like to thank all the volunteers to the Atlanta Food Bank. Your volunteer work demonstrates the involvement and commitment of our church to the greater Atlanta community.
Next Sunday (July 16) is potluck Sunday! This is a great activity for everyone to foster fellowship in our church community. If you are celebrating your birthday in the month of July, we have ordered a birthday cake for you. Lunch begins after the 10:30am Mass. Please bring your favorite dishes to share.
Prayer List: Huang Yanru, Lin Liehuai, Liang Chenjing, Pan Bohao, Angela Griffin, Long Guorui, Zhang Qiang and Xu Taicheng.