“Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way.” Luke 13:31-32
What path will you take?
When faced with danger, worry, fear, heartache — do you run away? Or do you keep moving forward?
When faced with discomfort, with challenging truths, with disquieting realities — do you stop? Or do you lean int to the challenge?
This is the question put before Jesus in the gospel today, and perhaps the one put before us as well. ‘Jesus - don’t go that way! Its dangerous!’ If you are a new arrival to Baltimore you have likely heard this from family, friends and others — ‘don’t move to Baltimore! Its too dangerous!’ And certainly it might have turned out better for Jesus the man if he had not continued on to Jerusalem - but it would have been significantly worse for us. There would be no salvation available for us. No opportunity for us to connect to God, to walk with a living God in our own life if Jesus had simply taken the easy way out.
What path will you take?
Sometimes it is easier to burn the relationship than repair it. Sometimes it is easier to move out of the neighborhood, the city, than to work to heal the problems. Sometimes it is easier to ignore the truths in front of you; whether it is about the racist history of an institution, the challenging reality of your current situation, or how you really feel about the world - and just keep going as if everything is okay. But the reality is, ignoring the truth doesn’t make it okay.
If Jesus simply hid from Herod and waited till the coast was clear - the demons would not have been cast out, the people wouldn’t have been healed, and salvation wouldn’t have been offered to all. If we simply hide from the challenges and difficulties of this world, what demons will be left unconfronted? What illness will be left uncured? What salvation will be left un-fulfilled?
The Lenten Call for Christians is a call of discomfort. We often interpret this as a call to diet. To exercise. To the things we don’t want to do for ourselves. But in reality, it is a call to be uncomfortable with the state of the world around us. To allow ourselves to be challenged by the injustice we see at our doors and the hurt we carry in our hearts. So this Lent perhaps we should reflect on this famous Franciscan prayer — about the blessing of discomfort.
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.