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De Jugo Christi (On the Yoke of Christ)

Taken from Medulla S. Thomae Aquinatis which arranges various short texts from St. Thomas Aquinas' corpus based on the liturgical year. I will be posting the day's meditation each day and will be bringing it into print once I'm through it.

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February 7th

On the Yoke of Christ

I. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: Take therefore my yoke, namely the Gospel instruction. For the whole new law consists in two things: in meekness and humility. By meekness a man is ordered with respect to neighbor. By humility, one is ordered with respect to himself and with respect to God. But to whom will I have respect, but to him that is poor and little, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my words? (Isa 66:2). Hence humility makes a man receptive of God.

II. He speaks of the utility of bearing the yoke: Come to me and I will refresh you. What is this refreshment? You will find rest for your souls. For the body is not refreshed for as long as it is affected; and when it is no longer affected, then it is said to be refreshed. And just as hunger is in the body, so desire is in the mind: hence the fulfillment of desires is refreshment. Who satisfies your desire with good things (Ps 102:5). And this rest is the rest of the soul; I have labored a little, and have found much rest to myself (Sir 51:35). The meek are not set at rest in this way in the world; hence you will find an everlasting rest, namely the fulfillment of desires.

III. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light. In all things the teaching of Christ is light, in its effect, because it changes the heart. For it makes us not love temporal things, but rather spiritual things: for the one who loves temporal things, to lose only a little is more heavy for him than for the one who loves spiritual things to lose a great deal. The old law did not forbid those temporal things, so it was heavy for them to lose them; but now, although in the beginning a small amount was heavy, yet afterward it was too little; I will lead you by the paths of equity: which when you will have entered, your steps will not be straitened (Prov 4:11).

Likewise, as regards action, the law burdened one with exterior actions. But our law is only in the will; hence, for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink (Rom 14:17).

Likewise, the law of Christ renders right actions pleasant; hence the Apostle, but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).

There are many adversities. Hence, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). But these are not heavy, because they are seasoned with the spice of love. For when someone loves something, whatever he suffers for it is not heavy to him: hence love makes all heavy and impossible things light. Hence if someone loves Christ well, nothing is heavy for him, and so the new law does not burden him.

(Selections from Matt.C11.L3 edited by Denys Mezard in Medulla S. Thomae Aquinatis, translation from the Aquinas Institute and edited as needed)

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