Homilette for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Matthew 11:28-30)

For good reason people do not want to be slaves. African slaves in America often experienced brutality along with arduous labor. Contemporary slavery exploits women and children who become sex objects for rapacious perverts.

But what if slavery offered a greater freedom than that of not being owned by anyone? Might it not then be acceptable? What if slavery under one person meant freedom from all other sources of domination – internal or external? Might we not want to submit ourselves to it? In mind here is not just free will to do what we believe is right but the ability to act with perfection in every situation. This freedom would be the equivalent in daily life of the freedom of an Olympic gymnast on the parallel bars or that of a virtuoso pianist at the keyboard.

In the gospel today Jesus offers such slavery. He invites us to exchange our willingness to sin for slavery to himself. He does not use the term “slavery,” of course, but speaks of a “yoke.” In biblical times, however, a yoke -- which fastened oxen together for work in the fields -- was considered a metaphor for slavery. Jesus wants us to leave behind our sinfulness in order to make a firm commitment to himself. He will send then send us his Holy Spirit to bring us to perfection. Is his offer not something that we should seriously consider?