Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
A boy came home after school with a note informing his parents that he had been suspended from school for three days.
When his mother asked him what happened he explained, “Mom, do you remember Mario, the boy who was bullying me?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Well, he was bothering me and hit me. But,” the boy added with pride, “I remembered that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek.”
His mother was amazed. “That’s nice. However, this suspension notice says that you punched him and broke his nose.”
“Mom,” the boy responded with frustration, “I said that I remembered what Jesus said. I didn’t say that I did it!”
How many of us are like that boy? We read and hear what Jesus tells us in the gospels but we fail to do what he commands. That is especially true with the teachings that he gives us in today’s gospel reading. Love our enemies? Do good to those who hate us? Bless those who curse us? Pray for those who mistreat us? Lend without expecting repayment?
“Sorry, Father, but that’s not the way things work in the real world.”
But it is the way that Jesus works. Our journey to the holiness to which we are called by Baptism is, to use St. Paul’s terms, a process of becoming less like Adam and more like Jesus. It’s a lifetime journey, one that we make step by step, day by day, and choice by choice.
The Lord’s ancestor David knew this journey. He had the opportunity to kill Saul, a deficient and unstable ruler who had been trying to kill him. David had some respect for Saul, whom he had faithfully served for years. But he had even more respect for God and faith that God would give him victory over a friend who had become his mortal enemy. David’s faith in God was rewarded, though God’s faith in David would be tested many times because of David’s weaknesses and sins.
In his classic poem, The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost writes:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The road that that the world gives us seems easier and sometimes more pleasant. Living gospel of Jesus is the road less traveled by. As we choose to walk it—step by step, day by day, and choice by choice—may we also learn that, “as way leads on to way,” it makes all the difference. +