Yoke of slavery. I don’t like using that S word for obvious reasons. Maybe a truer expression is to be controlled, oppressed. A yoke of being controlled, manipulated, or made to do something out of threat.
In all four passages for today’s liturgical readings, there is a whiff of being controlled or manipulated to be someone who goes against your inner fibers. The people who put in the work to do scripture mashups (which is basically what the liturgy is) had some brilliance.
In one passage, there is an oppressive, controlling ruler who takes over a city. He does so by force and many ill words. But an old man who is quiet and full of wisdom delivers the city.
As the passages continue, a mashup theme is getting revealed. The Christ figure says to be mindful of who is teaching you and what they’re teaching. The disciples are being warned about a group of religious leaders who slant their teachings in a way that distorts God’s true image, which ultimately distorts how we view ourselves and others.
Paul says to be mindful of “who is confusing you”. To be confused is to have two or more ideas that are trying to get mingled together. But they don’t go together.
A strong Ruler who oppresses // a wise, quiet old man who delivers
Religious leaders who distort God’s image for personal gain // Christ and the Cross
A life devoid of communal awareness // Community relationships inspiring freedom
In a culture of words, pithy statements, broadstroke posts and arguments, God is calling us to slow down and listen. To be contemplative in a time of crisis is to be communal with Christ and community.
Father, Son, Spirit, may you guide us into truth-making, wisdom that delivers us and others from oppression and confusion. Make things clear for us. We’re not always the best thinkers and doers. Your words and deeds, Lord Jesus, become our way of defining truth and reality. Amen.