Thursday, XV Week of Ordinary Time, Year A

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened

Readings: 1st: Is 26:7-9.12.16-19; Ps: 101; Gos: Mt 11:28-30

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today is the Thursday of the fifteenth week of ordinary time. In today’s gospel, Christ extends a very important invitation to us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This invitation came in the context of his speech to the crowd of his humble followers. Through this, Christ expresses his concern for both our physical and spiritual welfare.

This is an open invitation to: “All who labor and are overburdened.” It is, an invitation for all sincere seekers of the truth and true wisdom. It is for all who live under the slavery and oppression of unjust systems.

At that time, as it is today, the poor suffered political, social and structural injustices from the Roman authorities. Also, they suffered religious injustice from the Pharisees and the Scribes.

Today, Christ used a very popular symbol to extend his invitation to us. The yoke is a farming instrument used to bind animals together so that they must move and labor together. Hence, they lose their individual freedom.

This places a very serious burden on the neck and shoulders of the animals. Unfortunately, when animals of different sizes, attitude or strength are yoked together, they suffer more. Hence, Paul warns us: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14).

So, Christ knows that some of us are suffering in this way. There are so many things that have tied us down. There are situations in our lives that have stolen and limited our freedoms. There are forces that have taken us captives and yet, we can not free ourselves from them.

The sad news is that, either through our wrong choices in life, or through the actions of spiritual or human forces stronger than us, we have become unequally yoked. So, we have lost our freedom to think and act wisely.

However, the good news is that, Christ is ready to change our fortune. He is ready to unbound us from that which has oppressed us for a very long time so that we might be free again.

Hence, he invites us to come to him. Coming to him means accepting his reign and his kingdom. To take his yoke is to be free from the yoke of evil, slavery, injustice and unmerited suffering.

Again, it takes humility, wisdom and sincerity to respond to this important invitation. So, let as the Holy Spirit to help respond wisely.

Peace be with you all!

Maranatha!

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