Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014
in Ordinary Time
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
When my younger son was in grade school, he had a lazy approach to his homework assignments. Making sentences using his spelling words was a case in point.
Say the week's list had the words "dancer," "think," and "summer." His sentences would be: "She is a dancer." "I can think." "It is summer."
This happened every week, and every week exasperated, I'd admonish him, "Your sentences have to show you know what the word means."
"It's too hard," he would whine. "It'll take too long."
Then I'd pull out the adage, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."
This didn't instantly stop the whining, but the idea eventually got through to him. It's a great adage about putting necessary effort into worthwhile tasks in order to achieve something of value.
The important matter at hand in this weekend's Scriptures -- eternal life with God -- involves some worthwhile tasks. A certain amount of effort, including struggle and sacrifice, will be necessary.
In the Gospel, Peter, like a schoolboy disinclined toward anything too hard, balks at the idea that his beloved friend should have to suffer.
In response, Jesus seems somewhat annoyed by Peter's desire for an easier way. He suggests that his task is too important not to be worth doing right: "You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Peter's initial attitude reminds us of our own tendency to find an easy way.
The way to salvation isn't easy. It involves conscientious effort. In the first reading, Jeremiah points out that following God's path resulted in his being mocked, derided, and reproached, and he whines that he didn't want the aggravation.
But then he admits that what he is striving for is too important to ignore. "It becomes like fire burning in my heart. . . . I grow weary holding it in," he says.
It is worth doing, and he is compelled to do it right.
God's way is not easy, but it is more than worth our human effort. Jesus already has given all that is necessary for us to live with him in eternity, and he will strengthen us for our part -- following his example.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.