Joking and Yoking

About 10 years or so ago, I volunteered as a math tutor on Saturday mornings for students in my high school alma mater in Boston. The tutors would sit in classrooms, and then the students would come in for 40-minute periods as if they were in class. In fact, it was called Saturday Success School.

One student who came in regularly was Corey. Back then, he was a little seventh-grader with big eyeglasses and a huge backpack. Each Saturday, he showed up for his tutoring session with me with a big smile. Why a big smile for tutoring on Saturday morning?

Well, because you see, both Corey and I were big fans of the Simpsons.

So, once he sat down, out came all the Simpsons episodes from the past week’s re-runs. And all my Simpsons impersonation talents were put to good use. There’s the Montgomery Burns’ “Eeexcellent Smithers!”, Homer’s “Doah!”, Martin’s “My cat’s breath smells like cat food!”, Barney’s belch, Principal Skinner, Apu, Groundskeeper Willie, Krusty the Klown, Mayor Quimby, Moe, Otto, Chief Wiggum, the list goes on.

For the first ten minutes we laughed about the Simpsons. Everyone else was at work tutoring and tuteeing away, and we were laughing and joking.

And then, I would say, “OK, you ready?” At that point, I tell you, I never had a student so focused, so quick to learn as Corey. We plowed through all the problems, all the work, like it was nothing. I tutored for over ten years, and I never had anyone catch on so quickly and improve so much. His math grade went from D to A. He went from one of the worst to one of the best.

Well, at the end of the term, all the tutors got little “awards” of appreciation. When I went up to get mine, the director said to me, “Jerome, you have a special note on the back of yours.” When I got back to my seat I turned it over. She had written a note: “Thank you for your commitment to the Saturday Success School. Corey said you were the best tutor he ever had.”

Why?

Because we were joined through the Simpsons, of all things. It was the thing Corey loved the most.

We were joking and yoking.

The Lord is the great Tutor of life, and he calls us to be joined to Him by a yoke: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)

What does He mean by lowly in heart? How is His yoke easy?

Because He yokes Himself to us through our favorite things.

Nobody really likes having to get a tutor, because it usually means you’re familiar with failure. You have to focus attention on your weakness. It’s not restful and it’s not easy. But the Lord knows exactly what we like. And He is lowly in heart. When we go to Him for help, He’s going to meet us in our favorite things. He gives us the lift we need, the comfort that gives us confidence and puts us at ease to trust Him and follow Him.

If the Lord calls you to Himself, don’t be afraid of the Tutor or what He’s going to ask of you.

Go. He will put you at ease and make you a great disciple, because He is lowly in heart.

He will take you from your worst to your best. He’ll be the best tutor you’ll ever have.

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