30 For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
Chrysostom: That they might not be afraid because He had spoken of a burden, therefore He adds, “For my yoke is pleasant, and my burden light.”
Hilary: What is more pleasant than that yoke, what lighter than that burden? To be made better, to abstain from wickedness, to choose the good, and refuse the evil, to love all men, to hate none, to gain eternal things, not to be taken with things present, to be unwilling to do that to another which yourself would be pained to suffer.
Rabanus: How is Christ’s yoke pleasant, seeing it was said above, “Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life?” [Matt 7:14] That which is entered upon by a narrow entrance is in process of time made broad by the unspeakable sweetness of love.
Augustine: They who with unfearing neck have submitted to the yoke of the Lord endure such hardships and dangers, that they seem to be called not from labour to rest, but from rest to labour.
The Holy Spirit was there who, as the outward man decayed, renewed the inward man day by day, and giving a foretaste of spiritual rest in the rich pleasures of God in the hope of blessedness to come, smoothed all that seemed rough, lightened all that was heavy.
What storms and dangers will not merchants undergo that they may acquire perishing riches? Even those who love not riches endure the same hardships; but those that love them endure the same, but to them they are not hardships. For love makes right easy, and almost nought all things however dreadful and monstrous. How much more easily then does love do that for true happiness, which avarice does for misery as far as it can?
Jerome: How is the Gospel lighter than the Law, seeing in the Law murder and adultery, but under the Gospel anger and concupiscence also, are punished? Because by the Law many things are commanded which the Apostle fully teaches as cannot be fulfilled; by the Law works are required, by the Gospel the will is sought for, which even if it goes not into act, yet does not lose its reward.
The Gospel commands what we can do, as that we lust not; this is in our own power; the Law punishes not the will but the act, as adultery. Suppose a virgin to have been violated in time of persecution; as here was not the will she is held as a virgin under the Gospel; under the Law she is cast out as defiled.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).