What’s a Parent To Do?
Come to Me,
all of you who are weary
and find life burdensome;
I will refresh you.
Take My yoke on your shoulders
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble of Heart.
You shall find rest
because My yoke is easy
and My burden light.
-- Matthew 11:28-30
We’ve all heard or used the phrase — time is money … gotta get going; time doesn’t wait. How about this phrase: time’s ticking and I have so much to do. Many of us live the rush hour from the time we get up until the time we retire at night. Some keep going even then. Parents seem to be especially busy as they try to balance careers, family life, marriage, friendships, volunteer acts, etc. Americans - in general — appear to put a great deal of their personal stock in being & staying busy. We equate being busy with having purpose; being productive; having greater personal worth. We assume that staying busy will help us pursue and achieve the American Dream. We begin to believe that staying busy will somehow satisfy intrinsic yearnings/longings.
The antonyms for busy connote negative attributes including being inactive, unoccupied, unemployed, lazy, un-engaging and un-busy. These words mostly tell us that being busy is good; whereas, being un-busy is not a good thing. It is bad; unproductive; and/or a vice. But, the busier we are, the less time we have to wonder if what we are doing is worth it and why. We have less time to wonder how to become less busy. We fail to wonder if anything is to be gained by detaching from what we love doing. We often lose sight of why and how we got so busy in the first place. That is until some major event changes the way we look at life such as a major illness, the loss of a job, the death of a spouse, occurs. At those junctures, our world seems to stop and we suddenly have all the time in the world to think about things. While I am not advocating any of the above, it might be helpful to consider what would happen if… That might help us sort out the important and necessary things we do from those that really don’t matter in the long run. This exercise is especially helpful when / if you are feeling too busy.
Consider why BUSY may have been given the following acronym: Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Perhaps you are thinking I’m not under any yoke; I don’t even have a yoke. Yet, Jesus asks us to take up a yoke — specifically His - for “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:30] So, if the rushing around leaves you tired, burned out, less than inspired, unable to think about the important things in life; you may have yoked yourself to something that is not easy or light. And if it’s not His yoke; then whose is it? Elsewhere in Matthew [12:30]; we read Jesus’ warning: ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
What is Jesus’ yoke? Why is it light? Jesus use of yoke in this passage of Matthew was meant to be slightly provocative. Then and now, people consider a yoke to be heavy, burdensome, enslaving. So most of us would avoid putting on any yoke at nearly any cost. However, we have to read the entire passage [see above] to get Jesus’ whole point. He wants to yoke himself with us. This means that He is willing to sacrifice for our behalf. He has nothing to gain either way; we have everything to lose when refusing His offer. We have everything to gain when we say yes. This means that Jesus - being perfectly humble — bends down and asks you to accept His yoke. God is asking for your permission! Surely, He doesn’t have to but does. And His yoke is offered for many reasons. To help us. To guide us. To steer us in the right direction. To lift us up. To ease our labors. To encourage us. To teach us. Because He loves us with authentic love.
When we accept His yoke; we profess faith in God the Father, His Son and His Holy Spirit. It becomes our choice to submit to the Father’s Will and His commands. This is what he is owed; yet doesn’t grasp for it. We give it freely or not. And yet, He continues to loves us in degrees and depths we cannot fathom even after we refuse.
Why does Jesus say that His yoke is very light? For the reasons above and more. Think of the yoke as His Grace. Supernatural grace steers us away from evil, bad judgment, deceit, rash behavior and personal sins. It matures us spiritually. It makes us even more noble and dignified when we willingly and more perfectly unite to the One who is most noble and perfectly dignified. The yoke teaches us right from wrong. It help us to grow in wisdom, understanding, and righteousness. It helps us discover our true purpose. It helps to satisfy our deepest longings. It directs us productively. Grace lifts us up when and after we fall. We know all of this because of the prophet Isaiah’s words found in chapter 32.
It’s rather easy to imagine what life is like without being yoked to Christ. We just have to look around. Lives become unnecessarily BUSY, cluttered, confusing, and confounding as people try to figure out life and love without God’s guidance. These same people — even if they admit to being Catholic - admit it rather begrudgingly. They are embarrassed to openly acknowledge that God is God. Some become yoked to false gods. Many grow weary with life. A whole host of people fail to Stop - Look - Think about the moral life and what it has to do with Love. Morality becomes subjective. Life becomes complicated. Human lives are adversely affected.
All too many parents conform to the times; their children have trouble resisting the many decoys clamoring for their attention because their parents do so also. It is impossible to be an effective lay priest, prophet and king of their Ecclesia domestica [domestic churches]. They unwittingly yoke themselves to negative internals and externals. We begin to act as if in order to get along we have to go along with anything thrown our way. We pay attention to our children’s minor wounds but fail to heal their gaping wounds that come from seeking love, self worth, friendships, pleasures, relationships, and personal directions from all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.
We can stop making mistakes — that can be helped — by stopping to think about Why and HOW they happen and if / how they relate to being busy. Also, we need to take the time to STOP - LOOK and THINK about how busy we are and who/what we are yoked to. And then let’s pray that we are open to receiving God’s grace in order to do what He prompts us to do and change.