9th Sunday after Pentecost 10.8.14 Walk a straight path
The Israelites spent forty years in the desert, which was a lot longer than the actual distance they had to travel required. They were being punished for their disobedience and general complaining attitude.
There were many setbacks, such as mentioned in the epistle where 23000 were killed in one day.
They would have arrived a lot sooner if they had obeyed.
The Gospel speaks of a different generation of rebellious Jews, those of Our Lord’s own time, reminding us that human nature can be much the same from one generation to the next.
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem: If only you had responded to the constant offers of mercy; if you had read the signs, taken the hint!
We are like the people in the desert insofar as we have been set free (Baptism) and are still seeking the Promised Land (Heaven). We need to read the signs also.
God wants to make it as easy as it can be. This was always His intention. He encourages us to call on Him. He is not hard to reach. He will hear any plea for mercy, any cry of contrition.
Yet we make such heavy weather of it. In the desert we are tempted. The devil offers attractive alternatives. Would you like to eat, drink etc… so the seeds of discontent and rebellion are sown.
And we start saying, Who is this God that keeps telling us what to do. Or in our time, What is this Church that dares to intervene in my life?
Every act of rebellion ties another knot. If we are lost we might get more lost if we do not find the right exit. Every time we sin we are adding a few more steps we have to travel to freedom.
And when the whole human race is sinning, around the clock, the chaos increases greatly.
But at any point we can still cut through to a direct route: just by resolving that from this moment onwards, whatever else I have said, done or thought, I will obey God totally. So help me, God.
This is the beginning of the way home. We can make a straight line even if we have been going around in circles for years.
Just because the world is in a sorry state does not prevent us from being good disciples. In fact it can act as extra incentive. The more things are wrong the more I must try to set them right.
The more insane the world the more sane must we be.
Whatever others do I will do as Christ says. If they laugh, let them laugh. If they kill me, let them do that. I am going to walk that straight line. To the Promised Land, to Heaven.
God wants it to be easy for us, but in a certain way He makes it hard. Of those closest to Him He will ask them to take on a share of the world’s suffering in atonement (not punishment) for sin. It is a privileged sharing in His own suffering.
If we love God enough we don’t mind doing this. (cf St Laurence, whose feast we acknowledge today).
We are suffering from the fallout of sin but there is a pure thread through the middle of that which enables us to keep eyes fixed on the final objective, and this will enable us to hold firm.
We hope and pray that everyone will recognize the signs and respond. Meanwhile, we live simply, carrying such extra weight as the Lord entrusts to us. But always fixed on that final goal.