As we read these beautiful verses we note a paradox. We are called to God when we feel weary and burdened but then are invited to put on a yoke. How will that end our weariness or lift our burden? Are we to submissively plow the field while God, the driver, shouts orders?
But a yoke usually implies not one but two working animals, a team. A marriage partner may be called a “yokefellow,” a loved spouse bonded with us for the tasks of everyday life. God, who invites us as team partner, is already under the yoke. Usually a stronger is paired with a less powerful worker to share its strength and take the fuller brunt of the pull. There is no such thing as a life devoid of all burdens, but now the load is much lighter because the incarnate God carries them with us through each day’s need.
Thus yoked together, we do indeed learn of our strong partner as friend and lover. Together we walk the walk, pull together, breathe together, lie down in green pastures together. And in that bonding we are transformed.
The verse in Hosea, quoted in this week’s first reflection, in which the husband asks his wife no longer to call him master, but husband, continues in words of such profound love that they could be included in a marriage service, spouse to spouse. They are the voice of God directly to our hearts.
“I will make you lie down in safety. I will take you . . . forever; I will take you . . . in righteousness, in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will take you . . . in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord” (Hos. 2:18-20).
Help us this day to learn of you, God of our life, walking with us as eternal spouse and partner, yoked in love forever. Amen.
The reading in Genesis transitions our attention from Abraham to his son Isaac. When Isaac comes of age, Abraham sends a servant to find a wife for him. When the servant meets Rebekah, her kind hospitality convinces him that she is the one. Isaac marries her, and the readings in the psalm and Song of Solomon celebrate nuptial love as a symbol of God’s love. Paul in Romans reflects on the human condition. We desire to do what is right, but we fall short over and over again. What is the solution? God delivers us through Jesus Christ. In Matthew, Jesus emphasizes his intimate relationship with God and invites all who are weary to enter into Christ’s rest.
Read Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67. Which of these or other biblical stories model for you the relationship between God and humanity?
Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. How have you seen God at work in the way loving relationships have transformed you?
Read Romans 7:15-25a. When have you refused to participate in Communion because you did not feel worthy? How might participating in Communion in times of strife or sin help you be reconciled to God and others?
Read Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. The life of faith holds many ironies. How do you hold together the seeming opposites of Jesus’ and John’s focus in their ministries? of seeking to be yoked to God when your burden is too heavy?
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