"The Path to True Life "
Have we ever seriously thought of the kind of road of life we are travelling? This reminds me of M. Scott Peck’s bestseller’s “The Road Less Travelled” that helped people find meaning and transformation in life. Indeed, there’s a roadmap we follow in search for what makes us happy and satisfied in life. Without much effort, however, our human inclinations generally choose a more comfortable, easy way to life. We wouldn’t wonder why many of us dream for wealth, desire higher ambitions and get what we want, and we call it “life.” How many of us choose “the road less travelled?” How many of us take the courage to walk in a difficult path, what Jesus calls “the narrow road” that leads to the fullness of life?
I wonder how much humanity had been influenced by philosophies, by way of thinking, based on utilitarianism, hedonism, pragmatism etc. By this we believe that happiness is reached with the absence of pain or difficulties or suffering. We want to annihilate them in any away as much as we could in the guise of love, but by doing so we hurt ourselves all the more. Running away from pain is a natural inclination. The prophet Jeremiah, in our first reading this Sunday (Jeremiah 20:7-9) complained that God had duped him, he was mocked by his enemies. He wanted to give up but he found himself caught by the Word of God. “I say to myself, I will not mention him (God), I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones: I grow weary holding it in. I cannot endure it.” Ultimately, he chose the most difficult path and took courage to continue his mission, he embraced dying to himself, but only to find life in his mission.
St. Paul (Second Reading- Romans 12:1-2) gives a timeless exhortation, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” What he found in Rome in his time, sacrifices to idols, prostitution and promiscuity, lust and worship of bodies, wouldn’t be far different from our time. That’s why he says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” Finding life means conversion, and dying means transformation and renewal of minds, of our ways of thinking, of our relationship with ourselves, others and God that is motivated by true love, respect, and benevolence, not with selfishness and greed.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His is the different path, his is the “road less travelled”. It’s the contrary to what the world teaches us to think, to believe, to live. Peter, after having received the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, was rebuked by Jesus in this Gospel account (Matthew 16:21-27), because he got on the way of Jesus to fulfil his mission in Jerusalem, to be rejected, to suffer greatly, to be crucified and and on the third day rose again. Peter is like us afraid to suffer, he wanted an easy way straight to the resurrection. Jesus told him straight to his face, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Might be tough, but it’s true. He sets them the condition of discipleship, to walk towards God- to deny one self, take up one’s cross and follow him.
His path to true life is this, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Jesus’ way is “the road less travelled,” but this is the way to the fullness of life, to life eternal. This has been travelled, however, from one generation to the next, by those who loved and followed Jesus. They are our saints and martyrs!
(Fr Regie, MSP)