Humility from Jesus

Matthew 11:28-30

There are times in life when we feel just flat-out weary.  We feel weighed down and exhausted by things like family issues, difficult times at work, aggravations from contractors or utility companies, or maybe we just feel like all things that we used to be able to count on in life, our institutions and traditions, have suddenly become not so certain.

 

Jesus says in today's Gospel passage, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." He says we can rest by taking on his yoke.  But, on the surface, that only sounds like we’re only taking on more weight to bear on our shoulders, and not less.

 

We may think, “How can taking on the yoke of Jesus somehow refresh us?  How can it actually lighten our load?

 

Today's first reading speaks to our yearnings: We long for God's peace. We want a smooth way through rough problems. But instead, we feel like the woman in labor, pushing and pushing painfully for hours but expelling nothing more than “wind”.  A reflection that I read on the reading makes the conjecture that the wind Isaiah is speaking of might be gas, kind of an earthy metaphor for us to think about today.

 

I suppose the inference here is that we push so hard to overcome our burdens with our own might that our efforts simply produce no fruit.

 

Jesus' yoke that he speaks of, his solution, is humility. By leaning on him, leaning into humility, we endure our trials with gentleness, patience, forgiveness, perseverance, and resiliency.

 

The restful peace we yearn is available in every moment, because Jesus is with us every moment. In accepting his yoke upon us, we bond ourselves to him. As we know, the definition of a yoke is: a wooden implement designed to allow oxen to be harnessed together to pull a load.  Since Jesus is as strong as he is, the weight of that yoke will press more heavily on him than on us. Our share of the burden then will feel lighter. If we don't strain against the yoke by pulling Jesus in our direction, he’ll free us from the burdens that weigh us down.

 

 

Life's pains are easier to endure when we realize there's a bigger picture (that being the eternal picture, not the temporal one, the one that only allows us to see and hear what we can see and hear).  As we plow with Jesus through troublesome fields, we are helping to sow the kingdom of God, making a difference for us and others. If in humility somehow, we could only see where Jesus is taking us with our plows, we'd be grateful about the new crop that we know will grow, and we’d be less mindful of the sweat and labor that we are enduring.

 

We have to trust in the promises that Jesus is providing us when he says: "You will find rest for yourselves."  The deeper we plow with Jesus, the stronger our “humility muscles” become. And the more we use these muscles, the lighter the burden feels.

 

It was a fellow by the name of Jeff Wilson who said this about humility: “Selflessness is humility. Humility and freedom go hand in hand. Only a humble person can be free.”  There is a freedom that comes with humility. And as a result, our burdens are lightened because we come to know that what others think and say about us won’t weigh us down.

 

So, let us pray today that we will more willing to take Jesus up on his invitation to come to him, and be more aware of his promise of rest and refreshment.  Jesus can help us lean into humility and away from pride. Christ has been faithful in his promises to us.  If we increase in faithfulness in response to him, we will become better equipped to lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross, and find rest in his presence, both in this life.... and the life to come!

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