This past weekend we heard one of my favorite Gospel passages:
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:29-30)
There was a time, about eight years ago now, that I came to know this scripture intimately. It comforted me then, bringing me through a long dark hour, and reminds me still that my trust belongs to God.
So how exactly do we take Jesus’ yoke?
When Mikey’s health was spiraling out of our control from a brain tumor, I turned to Jesus as I knew Him then. The situation was too big for me by far; my baby boy was dying. At the start, I cried out to Him, begging Him at any cost to heal my little one. I saw nothing beyond the deepest desire in my being to keep my sweet 3-year-old in my arms. Jesus was always there, steady, solid, nurturing my hope, and yet, not making any promises about Michael’s health. He was answering so many of my prayers and giving me things I didn’t even know I needed, even if He couldn’t say yes to my one big request. Trust is not built in a relationship simply by receiving all that is asked for. Trust is built when one does all that one says he will do. God revealed himself in a million ways: through His word, in deed, and through His body, and what I came to know of Him was a depth of fidelity, honesty, capability, and love, that I had never known before. I turned to Him in every moment of need and He stayed close. He walked with me, day in and day out. When doctors were at a complete loss, Jesus wasn’t. As medicine continued to fail, my soul was nourished, refreshed, and full of Hope. One day He brought me to my Father; I will never forget those moments. We were flying away on a Make-a-Wish trip with our huge family, strollers, wheelchair, gear, and medicine, leaving behind all of our care and support team. Disease had become the familiar and we were embarking on a trip to the unfamiliar. I had some moments of terror as we were boarding that flight, understanding that we were leaving behind what little control we thought we had. Then we were up, up, and away, and as I looked out over the disappearing world below, to the vastness of the skies, I suddenly knew the awesomeness and Love of my Father. He created the skies, the earth, and all that is in it. All belongs to Him. We weren’t actually leaving anything behind that was out of our loving Father’s hands. That flight brought our little Michael to Mickey Mouse, but it brought me straight to the giant arms of Love, care, and protection. Jesus knew exactly what I needed. It’s not so scary to be little and helpless when you are cradled in Daddy’s lap. I knew I could trust Him even though He wasn’t promising that my own baby would be healed.
Only five short weeks after that trip, our beloved boy lay dying. I begged Jesus for the grace Mary had as she walked to Calvary. He knew my desperate need and sent our Lady herself to be with me and comfort me. I really saw and understood Mary for the first time as we gathered around Michael in his final hours and there is no doubt that her grace abounded. Peace descended upon the room as Mikey gave up his breath and we sought Heaven as never before.
Jesus knew our deepest need better than we did.
How do we take Jesus’ yoke? It’s really so simple. We love Him. We seek to know Him until we can abandon ourselves in Trust, holding no piece of ourselves back. We take His yoke when we can say that, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, “I belong to Him whom my heart loves.”