Friday, February 29, 2008
Friday in the 3rd Week of Lent
Readings: Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17; Mark 12:28-34
It’s a long road to freedom, a winding steep and high.
But when you walk in love with the wind on your wing;
And cover the earth with the songs you sing;
The miles fly by…
So goes an old hymn that we used to sing in church. Indeed, it’s a long road to freedom. Just ask anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs, pornography or sex, gambling or work… And we can probably substitute freedom with many other things, too, things like peace and justice, wisdom and virtue. But how long exactly is the road? That seems to be question that our readings invite us to consider today. How long is the road to the end of poverty and hunger and environmental degradation? How long is the road to the day when people will be able to live together as brothers and sisters? How long is the road to the Kingdom of God?
On the one hand, the road does often seem too long to contemplate without losing hope. Can the distance be any greater than that between the developed and underdeveloped, the conservative and the liberal, the saint and the sinner? But isn’t there also another side to the issue? Recall, for example, the parable that we heard at Mass not too long ago, the story of Lazarus and the rich man. What distance could be longer than that between the rich man’s prosperity and Lazarus’ destitution? And yet, for the rich man at least, the road was as short as the distance to his own front door.
Isn’t this the message of our readings today? Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them. The way to the Kingdom is as long and as short as our willingness to repent, to change our ways, to return to the Lord, to center our lives no longer on selfishness but on love. Isn’t this why Jesus is able to tell the scribe that he is not far from the Kingdom of God? As suspicious as he might at first have been of the Lord’s apparently unorthodox teachings and actions, he was willing to recognize truth when he heard it. As long as the road may seem, it is really as short as acknowledging and committing ourselves to following Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
How much further do we have to go today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 3:41 pm