My first dozen years as a priest were spent in a Korean county where oxen and their yokes were a daily sight. And those years have given me a fuller appreciation of hearing Jesus say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”
Before I went to that faming village I though of a yoke as any wooden harness fitted over an ox’s shoulders, but I was wrong. It had me missing the point of what Jesus was telling me to do.
The word “yoke” is an Indo-European word meaning to join two individuals.
In Korea, what I usually saw was a single ox pulling his plow, and it would not have been right for me to give the name of a yoke to the wooden bow fitted over his shoulders.
Sometimes, though, I would see an old ox and a young ox yoked together under a wooden yoke with a double wooden bow. The old ox would be teaching the young ox how to pull through long days. The big secret was to accept directions without fighting back.
In tough times we must image Jesus at one side of a yoke. He is asking you to come under that yoke's other wooden bow. He is staying fresh by not fighting against God’s will. He tells us, “You will find rest for yourself. My yoke is easy, and my burden light.”