During the Lenten season, whenever I hear the Gospel accounts of the Passion and death of Jesus, I think: “Dang, how could the Jews have taken the Son of God and had Him killed? Didn’t they know that God was right there in front of them? Didn’t they know that this was Jesus the Christ, the One they had been waiting for?”
Then I heard a sermon from a priest who pointed out that the Jews wanted the death of Jesus because He wasn’t what they wanted or expected. The Jews thought the Christ was going to be a ruler who would restore their power and honor. He would be a material Christ, someone who would bring temporal power and riches and all the yummy things of the world that go with it. If the Jewish leaders accepted this Man as the Messiah, they stood to lose a lot in terms of power and influence. So they took the easier route: They rejected Jesus and had Him disposed of.
So after Jesus was crucified, the Jews continued to be Jewish, waiting for a Messiah who more closely matched their expectations. And as of this writing, they’re still waiting.
But before we get all haughty and rail at the Jews for not embracing Christianity, we need to look in the mirror ourselves. As in, how many times do we refuse to accept God’s will for us because things don’t turn out the way we want them to?
– You didn’t get the job or career you wanted.
– A relationship with someone you wanted very badly didn’t turn out.
– Your car wouldn’t start.
– You ordered ham on rye at the deli and you got turkey breast on wheat.
Or even worse, how many Catholics either don’t practice their faith or have left it altogether because it wasn’t what they wanted it to be? They don’t like what the Church teaches on marriage or contraception or Mary or _______ (fill in the many beefs people have with the Catholic faith).
Or how many Catholics do you know who say stuff like “Well, that may be what the Church teaches, but I don’t agree with it” then choose to create a religion more to their liking?
Happens all the time.
Yet what I hear in myself when I don’t like something that happens to me is “Yeah, uh, no thanks. I don’t want this. I want my way, not this garbage that’s happening to me.” Which is kind of like praying the Our Father and instead of saying, “… Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” you say, “… MY will be done.”
So let’s see…
I — a creation of God — want to look God in the eye and say, “You know what? I don’t think I want to do things your way.” You know, kind of like saying, “Non serviam,” a famous quotation made by another creature of God who didn’t want to do His will: Lucifer.
Look, I’m not saying it’s always easy doing and accepting God’s will. But name me a saint who took the easy route. A saint whose life was one long easy path, filled with easy on ramps that fed into smooth sailing down the highway.
You can’t because there’s no such thing.
Every moment of your life is one where you say either, “Yes, Lord,” or “No way, Lord!” And I’ll have to admit, that many times, saying ‘No’ to God is easier.
But let’s be honest here, there is no group called “Sissies for Christ.” It doesn’t exist… never will. The only way to Heaven is by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13).
Do we have the guts to embrace Christ and His will for us or do we too say, “Away with him; away with him; crucify him” (John 19:15)?
God gave us free will to choose. His way or our way? The narrow gate or the broad way?
What will it be?