Homily, Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 23, 2017

Dt 7:6-11
1 Jn 4:7-16
Mt 11:25-30

Jesus once again exposes us to the intimacy between himself and the Father. But he clearly says that his purpose is to bring others into this intimacy. And so he extends an invitation: Come! Come one of the more powerful words of Jesus and of Scripture. Not to be passed over lightly. It is both an invitation and a wakeup call. Today, Jesus invites us to come into the relationship with him and the Father. The audience is anyone who is tired, whose life is overly busy, frantic, worn out. The invitation is for those for whom life is a drudgery.

He uses the word rest to describe the goal of coming. But then joins it with the word ‘yoke’. The image of yoking oneself to Jesus comes from the wisdom tradition. By itself, the word yoke has several levels of meaning. It could mean submission, oppression, subjugation, to come under someone else's authority negatively felt. But the yoke can mean something more positive. The yoke that binds two animals or people together is not to be an added burden but actually to lighten the load, to balance out the weight to make it easier to carry or pull. To accept the invitation to be yoked to Jesus is precisely as he says, you do not carry your burden alone; we carry it together. In fact, he says, when we carry it together it becomes lighter. It is not a stranger to whom I am yoked but someone who knows my/our burden well enough.

But to what of Jesus are we yoked? Jesus invites us today to yoke ourselves to his very self, a self he says that is meek and humble. The invitation is to yoke ourselves to a heart, the heart of Jesus that is meek and humble. It is not enough to look the Sacred Heart. No, the call is to yoke ourselves to what is sacred in that heart. Jesus tells us what is sacred about him: it is his meekness, his ability to listen, to be patient, to be humble, to suffer for others, in other words, to love. When we yoke ourselves to this heart, a marvelous happening occurs. We begin to have a heart ourselves; we find and discover the depths of our own humanity. The yoke shares the weight. Where is the weight? it is in both. Yoked to the heart of Jesus we share the heart of Jesus, we discover the depth and beauty of our heart in his heart. This is what Jesus wants to invite us to today.

Fr. Joel Macul, O.S.B.