The crowds who followed Our Lord were troubled and discouraged by the imprisonment of John the Baptist. These people were searching for relief from the heavy burdens put upon them by their religious leaders as well as the territorial and tyrannical rule of King Herod and the occupying Roman army. They had hoped that John was the one who would help them, but now he was in prison. Could Jesus, whom John had pointed to as the One, truly be their salvation?
Our Lord looked upon the crowd like sheep without a shepherd, and his heart went out to them: “Come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens” (Mt 11:28). Our Lord knew that for these people, love was the key. It was love that moved the Father to send him into the world and experience everything that had to do with the human condition. And it was love that sent him on his three year mission of preaching and healing as he made his way to the final act of love, his death on the Cross.
The Catechism tells us why the Son of God became a man: “The word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: ‘In this is the love of God made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him’” (CCC, 458).
Our Lord was inviting his followers—as indeed he invites us—to take up his “yoke” which is specially fitted to our needs and abilities. He promises not to make it too hard for us and if we lean on him and let him shoulder the burden he will give us all the strength and courage we need.
Our Lord wants to pour out his Father’s love upon us and make us secure and firmly rooted in that love. Advent is the season to receive this promise. And so let us turn to the Lord, let us take up his yoke and follow him.