14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON JULY 5, 2020 (R. 1: Zechariah 9: 9- 10; Psalm 145:1- 2, 8- 9, 10- 11, 13- 14; R. 2: Romans 8: 9, 11- 13; Gospel: Matthew 11: 25- 30)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
JUST MULTIPLY IT BY LOVE
On June 19th, 2017, Fr. Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director of Boys Town, shared the story behind the saying, “He ain’t heavy, he is m’ brother.” It was in 1918 when the mother of a boy named Howard Loomis abandoned him at Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys. The boy had polio, and he wore heavy leg braces. It was difficult for him to walk, not to talk of climbing steps. Not long after he arrived at Boys Town, some of the older boys began to carry him up and down the stairs. One day, Father Flanagan asked one of the older boys, Reuben Granger, if it was hard for him carrying Howard. Reuben replied, “He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s m’ brother.” Put differently, “He is not a load; he is not heavy because he is my brother.” Yes, the name we give the one we carry determines the impact on us. The heart with which we do what we do determines the impact on us and its outcome.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus sends us an invitation saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” When I first heard the words, “Take my yoke upon you,” I wondered, “Really? Are you kidding me?” I am already carrying a heavy load, I am looking for someone to help me take the load off my shoulder, and all Jesus promises me is an extra load, a yoke to add to my burden? How does that make sense? Are you with me?
Upon prayerful reflection, I eventually came to realize what Jesus means. It is not just an ordinary yoke; it is the yoke of love that transforms everything; the yoke of love that gives a new meaning to everything. When we have the love that comes from Jesus in our hearts, everything begins to take on a new meaning; everything begins to make sense. It is like what they say, “Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work for the rest of your life.”
Some time ago, some parishioners came up to me and asked, “Father, you celebrate so many Masses. On Sundays, for example, you celebrate two Masses, back to back at Sacred Heart. After the second Mass, we imagine that you are done for the day, only to discover through Facebook that you are joyfully celebrating the third Mass at another parish on the same day. How do you rest?” I paused for a moment, and I answered, “I rest by celebrating more Masses.” And I mean it because I love it. The priesthood for me is not what I do but who I am. When we have that love of Jesus in our hearts, what others may see as burdensome, we see as awesome. When we have that love of Jesus, what is pressure for others becomes a pleasure for us; what is a pain for others becomes gain for us; when in the same situation, people feel stressed, we feel blessed.
It is like the difference between pain and suffering. Everyone may be experiencing the same level of pain, but different levels of suffering. Pain is what happens to us, while suffering is our response/reaction to what happens to us. With the love of Jesus in our hearts, even when we shed tears, ours will be tears of joy. Using an analogy from mathematics, the power of love over pain is like the power of zero over numbers in multiplication. No matter how high a number is when it is multiplied by zero, the number disappears. Just as zero neutralizes every number in multiplication, so love is capable of neutralizing all our pains. When we multiply our pains by love, the value of our suffering is equal to zero.
My Dearly Beloved in Christ, this is the invitation that Jesus is extending to us today. His yoke is love; his yoke has the neutralizing power of zero. Multiply your load, multiply your pains by his yoke, and you will find rest for yourselves. May the love of God be upon us, as we place all our hope in Him, amid the changes and chances of this life, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.