Jesus' Sweet and Light Yoke


Now, to what people is this yoke sweet and light, as they accept it and bear it along?

Surely only to those whose thoughts are turned inward in search of God, and quite turned away from all created things.  Children, our souls ever stand on the boundary line between time and eternity.  If we turn toward time, we shall without doubt forget eternity, and soon be led far away from the things of God.  Whatever we see from a distance looks small; whatever we see close at hand looks large, for there is but little intervening space.  Thus the sun is many times larger than the earth, but if reflected in a cup of clear water on a summer's midday it seems no bigger than a little bean, and any little object that should come between the sun and that mirror would be large enough to take away entirely the image of the great luminary.

So it is with a man's soul.  No matter how trifling may be the earthly image he places in the depths of his soul, it is enough to interfere with God's light shining there; the infinite good that God is may easily be hindered from entering and possessing the soul of man.  And this is equally true when it happens that the image in the soul is not an evil and a little thing, but a great and really good thing;  it may hinder the entrance of God, who is without any image or intermediary whatsoever.

Know, therefore, for a certainty, that in whatever soul the infinitely good God shall be mirrored, it must be totally freed and emptied of all images;  if the soul reflects a single created thing, that is enough to exclude the reflection of God.  All souls who have not established in their very depths this freedom from creatures, who have not uncovered and laid bare before God their innermost recesses, are as yet only scullions in the divine service, and to them God's yoke is bitter.  And, says Origen, the man who has not looked into the deeper depths of his being has a plain sign, that as yet he has not tasted of the eternal sweetness of God.

Let it be well understood, therefore,...that at least once in the day we should turn inwards with all possible recollectedness; for if we do not even that much for the interior life, we are without doubt unworthy of the name of Christians.  And all who cleanse the mirror of their souls perfectly clear of the images of created things, so that God may pour in the sunlight of his divinity quite unobstructed, to them his yoke is sweet beyond all other possible sweetness.




Father John Tauler, O.P. "Jesus' Sweet and Light Yoke." from The Sermons and Conferences of John Tauler.

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in July, 2014.


Johannes Tauler OP was a German Dominican, one of the greatest mystics and preachers of the Middle Ages.  He was born at Strasburg about 1300;  died at the same place, 16 June, 1361.  The centre of Tauler's mysticism is the doctrine of the visio essentice Dei, the blessed contemplation or knowledge of the Divine nature.  He takes this doctrine from Thomas Aquinas, but goes further than the latter in believing that the Divine knowledge is attainable in this world also by a perfect man, and should be sought by every means.  The way to God is through love;  God replies to its highest development by His presence.  Tauler gives advice of the most varied character for attaining that height of religion in which the Divine enters into the human subject.  Johannes Tauler, Sermons is published by Paulist Press.

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