Rainbow to guide our way back to the U.S.
near Tel Aviv Airport, Israel, December 2009
photo courtesy of Dennis and Pam Murawski

A county truck once pulled to a stop on a quiet street. A worker armed with pick and shovel climbed out and set to work. Laboriously he dug a large hole between the curb and the sidewalk. Then a second man exited the truck, filled in the hole, and tamped down the earth. And that was their pattern all the way down the street, the one carefully digging holes to just the right depth, the other filling them in and tamping them down to just the right height.

“What in the world are you doing?” asked a woman who had been watching them. “We’re part of an urban beautification project,” was their reply. “Beautification!” sniffed the woman. “I fail to see what’s so beautiful about a row of filled-in holes.” “Well, you see,” said the worker, “the man who plants the trees is out sick today.”

Our God is an awesome God and He wants our lives to be awesome and big too. That is why we were made in His own image and likeness.  But making it big in our lives is not an easy thing to do. So many difficulties clutter along the way, so many distractions darkening our path, so many temptations clouding our journey, so many senseless things than digging holes and filling them up again.

God knows us inside and out and He came to give us the way, the truth and the life. He leads us through life when we find it heavy and demanding. He wants us to get rid of our fears, things we are afraid to challenge and confront.

The people in the synagogue were first delighted when they heard Jesus. They knew him from childhood. He was one of them. But fear took over and shut down their contentment. Fear choked the challenge for them to live a better and bigger life. Fear led them to drive Jesus to the very edge of a cliff. They realized that Jesus was no longer one of them. He was too much for them.

Had they grasped the real idea why Jesus came and spoke before them, things could have been different. Love demands and dares. Love challenges and confronts. Love is more concerned about the other person than oneself.

And so Jesus warned them about the choices they made. And they did not like it. Far from being popular, because that is one of the temptations Jesus had in the wilderness, our loving Lord wants us to choose wisely and to stand up for what we believe.

The choices that we make in our homes, schools, workplaces, churches and in our lives should be indicative of our being Catholic. All the right and moral choices have very unpleasant consequences.  We, as Catholics, have already been divided in many issues regarding sex, marriage and family. The bottom line remains: Just do the right thing.

Somehow we have to be challenged that the degradation of our families began with the fragmentation of our values. Somehow we have to be reminded that it takes more than a village to raise a child. Somehow we have to be reminded that as parents and grandparents, it is our God-given responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren about what is true, what is good and what is right. And as God’s children, we have to be reminded that we need to listen, to follow and to do the commands of God.

When a prophet, like Jesus, calls into question our lifestyle and our morality, some of us might find it very uncomfortable. If what the prophet said was right, then we have to change. And to change means to subject ourselves to pain.

The word of God should challenge us personally. If we know that what we are doing is not right, then why do we have to continue doing it? If we know that we had been living a sinful life, then why do we have to persist in the squalor of sin? If we know that we had disobeyed the commandments of God, then why do we wallow in our misery?

Sometimes the most honest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn. It is undoubtedly true that there are sins which we need to point out, that our faith should not be watered down by the delusional condensation of relativism, that our journey to heaven needs to pass through the rocky roads of challenge and sacrifice.

Truth hurts. We learned from our childhood that it was a child who exclaimed that the emperor had no clothes. We learned from Jesus that hypocrisy has no place in His kingdom. And we know that faith without works is dead.

Would we react like those in the gospel story if Jesus were to challenge us about the way we live? Would we also be mad at Jesus because he wants us to change our ways? Would we also be angry with our God if he confronts us in our sinfulness because he wants us not to be digging up holes and filling them up again but in order to live a life of grace?

31 January 2010

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