Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The Holy Gauntlet of Life
Have you ever been dining out with your family and been afraid to pray in public? Have you at times felt people looking down on you because of your faith? Do you suspect that some have talked about you in private because you are a Christian? And all of this without them getting to know you!!
In today's Gospel Jesus sends some followers of His ahead of Him to prepare a place for them to stay. They return angry and dejected. Why? Because the Samaritans refused them hospitality. Why? Because His little band of followers was headed to Jerusalem. For a number of reasons, the Jews hated the Samaritans and likewise the Samaritans did not like the Jews. They especially did not care for devout Jews heading toward the Temple in Jerusalem.
You and I are pilgrims. We too are on a journey to Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem. As Job clearly tells us in the 1st Reading, this pilgrimage is difficult. In fact, it can be so difficult at times that we may want to curse the day we were born!!
The pilgrimage itself is difficult enough. Trying to stay on the journey while struggling with jobs, children, sickness, and the culture around us is at times seemingly impossible. Add to that people who want to throw us off the trail or block our way, and we may be tempted to give up. This pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem often feels more like a gauntlet!!
The answer to this struggle, the key to this seemingly impossible mission goes against our sinful, fallen nature. Cursing the day we were born changes nothing. Calling down "fire from Heaven" helps no one. Only by continuing on our journey can we get to our destination.
Like Jesus, we may need to "journey to another village" but we can't change the destination or give up mid-pilgrimage. When we lose our job, it is simply an unexpected journey to another village. The goal is still Heaven. When we face addiction or disease in our family, it is a journey to another village. The end in sight is still Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Lord, give me the strength to travel this pilgrimage, to be faithful though this holy gauntlet. Give me the grace to neither veer to the left and curse the day I was born, nor to the right cursing those around me. Please give me the grace to always keep my eyes on the Heavenly Jerusalem, you waiting there greet me, and all of my brothers in sisters in faith cheering me on!
A great book that has helped my keep my eyes focused on Heaven and withstand the Holy Gauntlet is The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide for Catholics Seeking Salvation by Fr. Jean Nicolas Grou. (This is an affiliate link. By clicking on this link I may earn money by your purchase. I do not recommend anything I haven't read or used personally and believe is of value to you the reader. Thank you)