Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

MARK 2: 1-12
FEBRUARY 22, 2009

I run with a local running group in Boulder. On Saturdays we do a long 9-mile run. I had not done this run in some time due to work conflicts and travel. This weekend I was able to run with the group, and decided to do the whole nine miles. Within a short time I was running last, way last. All alone, about 50:00 into the run, I began to whine and doubt that I had the strength to complete the nine miles. I thought of turning around early, or even hitch hiking back to the start where my car was parked. Suddenly, I realized what my Lenten penance would be.

During most of Lent I will be traveling away from home to give parish missions. When I am away from my running group and working, I give myself all sorts of reasons not to exercise. My will is looking for an easier softer way through each day. Lent is a time to confront this self-will. Running is the daily event in which I will try to say yes to exercise while my will is saying no. The running is not the issue. The issue is to find something in Lent that puts us up against the desire to find a softer and easier way to live. I will need Grace to overcome my strong self-will. I cannot do it alone. I am weak.

Lent usually challenges us to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. But I am a skinny guy who does not eat all that much anyway. So fasting would be rather easy for me. I do give money away and I do pray. So I needed to find something that is a difficulty for me, so as to challenge my will. Running became the place to do this. If you are someone who feeds your face to change a mood, or are gluttonous, then fasting might be for you. If you hoard your money like a miser, then almsgiving would be your challenge. Each of us must find that issue or event that puts us up against a self-will that can run riot.

The four people in the gospel, who were carrying the mat of the sick person, came up against a front door that was so jammed with people no one could get through. They could have simply turned around and gone home. That might have been the easier thing to do. But they took the next step, and the much harder thing to do, as each confronted their will that wanted to give up. They went up to the roof and uncovered it, and let their friend down into the room. Their effort found Jesus, who forgives and heals us. Lent is the time to allow the will to be healed from its egocentricity, its pleasurable desire to live life not to the full, but in an easier softer way, the wide and not the narrow road.

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