Oxen Ploughing a Field,
Painted by George Arthur Hays (American, 1854-1945),
Oil on canvas
Executed in 1900
© Avery & Dash Collections, all rights reserved

Oxen Ploughing a Field,
Painted by George Arthur Hays (American, 1854-1945),
Oil on canvas
Executed in 1900
© Avery & Dash Collections, all rights reserved

Gospel of 20 July 2023

Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Reflection on the painting

In this very short reading today, Jesus uses the imagery of a yoke. Most of his listeners at the time were probably involved in farming or fishing, so the image of a yoke must have appealed to them; probably less so today, in our age of industrialised agriculture. Nevertheless, it is easy enough to work with this image that Jesus gave us. A yoke keeps two oxen together as they plow the fields, to prepare for a new season of crop planting. The two oxen have to work together. The stronger ox leads the weaker ox, working their way through the fields and life, ploughing one row at a time, towards completing their task. We humans, are the weaker ox, needing strength, guidance and encouragement by Christ.

Today’s painting shows farmers ploughing their field; the soft light probably indicates that it is early morning. The left half of the painting shows the field already ploughed, the past; the right side has yet to be ploughed, the future. All the oxen and the farmers need to work together, in perfect harmony and synchronicity, to prepare the fields and plant the crop for future harvesting. The artist, George Arthur Hays, was known for his agricultural paintings of cows, sheep and oxen which captured a way of life that was rapidly disappearing at the time he painted them in 1900.

A yoke is designed for two animals. This farming instrument brings the strength of two animals together to pull a load that is impossible for one animal to pull on its own. When Jesus uses the word ‘overburdened’ in today’s Gospel, he suggests that if we want to pull this load on our own, we are overburdened. We simply can’t do it on our own.

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Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain(@mark_crain)
7 months ago

This site amazes: the visualizations, the comments, the encouragement. “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” Jesus, help me to be gentle and humble of heart.

Polly French
Member
Polly French(@pauline)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

I agree Mark. Just like the oxen, men, yoke, plough and Jesus all working together to get the job done, this site feels like a community of workers helping each other along!

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
7 months ago

I have just noticed that there are four oxen. So, it seems not only Jesus and me, but the Church pulling together behind Jesus.

Ashford
Member
Ashford(@mirroredreflections)
7 months ago

What caught my attention in today’s gospel is the revelation of who Jesus is, as he say’s ‘I AM gentle and humble in Heart, the same I AM revealed to Moses in today’s reading. The fulfillment of the old Testament, the truth the way and the life.

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
7 months ago
Reply to  Ashford

The name of God.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain(@mark_crain)
7 months ago
Reply to  Ashford

Nice insight. Thank you.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago

This is a challenge for me today because all I feel is the total heaviness of my burden. I will try to hand it over to others today, so I can better carry it. I feel that after half the ploughing has been done, I have found myself in the wrong field and have to start over again. So many mistakes…

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain(@mark_crain)
7 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Praying that I am shoulder an ounce of your burden today, SFG. May we work together, and may tear down fences that keep us from ploughing in the right field.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Oh thank you Mark- I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament today. Out of the blue, once I was home, I got the phone call I needed, and rang a good friend. My burden is much lighter now. God is good. Hope you are ok too.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard(@fr-will)
7 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Ohhh… and I can’t resist SFG: are not the yokes, the ‘mistakes’, the burdens and crosses in this life the places that make “Space for Grace” ? And while the Lord is the one who plows the heart so that it may become fertile in the Father’s Love, who is the second fellow with the prod?
Some may say it’s our guardian angel, but what if it’s our friendly ol ‘Shadow’? This, our counter self who is ever lightly teasing us up – Jung’s four oxen /archetypes if you wish – to be synchronized by Grace to work in God’s vineyard, to be working counter to our ‘burdens’, and to instead “rejoice in all things” – thus making our yoke always “light and easy”.
Hmmmm, and then able to , let our yokes, mistakes, burdens and crosses pass easily out/by us … to add rich compost to life’s verdant fields (grin).

Antonio Portelli
Member
Antonio Portelli(@antonio-portelli)
7 months ago

I love this short passage. How fortunate we are to have a Jesus as our Lord and guide to see us through our daily lives.

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra(@bogie29)
7 months ago

I cannot do it on my own but being yoked with Jesus will make my burdens lighter. A beautiful imagery.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
7 months ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

I agree Andy; I heard this differently today through the painting and reflection – that Jesus pulls WITH us. Wonderful – a great feeling of not being alone in any trouble.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M(@chazbo)
7 months ago

Tremendous certainty in Jesus’ words today. He makes it very simple – come to Him and it will be ok. It’s really that straightforward but we so often don’t get it.
One of the consolations of old age is the removal of a lot of the fog and fever of this life and a clear vision of where we are going. Death, of course, but as Christians belief in a life to come.
Dear Lord, make it simple for me, make it peaceful, and grant me an eternal life in your presence!

Rya Lucas
Member
Rya Lucas(@katteliekemeissie)
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Chazbo, ik sluit me aan bij jouw gebed. Moge Onze Lieve Heer zich over ons ontfermen. Amen
Chazbo, I agree with your prayer. May our Dear Lord have mercy on us. Amen.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Beautifully put Chazbo.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain(@mark_crain)
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

You inspire me. Thank you.

Moira Cunningham
Member
Moira Cunningham(@moira-cunningham)
7 months ago

I like the point that the oxen need to work together to complete the task. That it takes the strength of two to do the job that would be too hard for one . Dissention among people particularly Christians harms the work of the Church.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago

I agree with this! If people don’t get on with the task in hand that field will never get ploughed! The church doesn’t need the attacks from outside when there is so much conflict within it. Maybe it has always been this way though, it is just that the media opens up the path for so many voices to be heard where previously they would have been silent. There is so much work to be done and we’d better just get on with it!

Mike Baird
Member
Mike Baird(@mikeb)
7 months ago

Jesus gives an irresistible invitation. Give me your burdens and I will give you rest.

Who among us has never felt overburdened, felt in need of rest? Being fully human, Jesus knew exhaustion, he knew rest. His yoke is one of gentleness and humility.

When I am gentle, when I am humble I am inevitably rested. The opposite is also true. When I am harsh, when I am proud, these take constant energy and I end up exhausted. It is said more muscles are engaged in a frown than in a smile.

Polly French
Member
Polly French(@pauline)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Baird

Who could ask for more from a best friend than someone to take on the bulk of our burdens! It is indeed an irresistible invitation! It sounds so simple, so why do we resist it so often?

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago
Reply to  Polly French

One thing I am grateful for in my life is the counsel of good friends- I thank God for their presence in my life.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Baird

Such wise words Mike. I feel very over-burdened just now and that rest is very elusive. I have always struggled with pride and it is visiting me again. I pray it doesn’t destroy me. It is a spiritual malignancy.

Mike Baird
Member
Mike Baird(@mikeb)
7 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

It won’t destroy you. Why? Because you’ve named it and shone the light of Christ on it. The battle is won. All you have to do now is deeply breath through your nostrils three times and receive his peace. Bless you brother.

Bashia Ferrando
Bashia Ferrando
7 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

For what it is worth, last Tuesday I listened to Father James Mary’s homily at the 9.30 am Mass in Walsingham recommending a book entitled “Humility of Heart” by Father Cajetan da Bargamo OMC who was a missionary. It might be helpful. The mass is recorded and you can still listen to it.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain(@mark_crain)
7 months ago

Thank you.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
7 months ago

Thank you so much for your thoughtful suggestion. I have been to mass at Walsingham many times- a special place indeed!

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