Walk the Walk

Most of the year, it’s easy to walk with Jesus. Well, you know what I mean. It’s never easy to walk with an incarnate God. I mean we always look a little less capable in comparison to Jesus. And other people, ridiculing us or (worse!) ignoring us — well, that can be a drag. And sometimes we just want to throw in the towel when we have a particularly bad day. But most of the time it’s easy, all things considering.

Most of the year, our Gospel readings give us the pretty mellow, wise Jesus. You know the one: the Jesus who has interesting stories, hangs out with folks like us, forgives people. And then there’s always the spectacle of miracles. Fish by the baskets-full. Blind, sick, lame — all cured! Even the occasional raising from the dead. We all want to be associated with this. Sort of bask in Jesus’ radiated glory.

But now we’re going into Lent. On Ash Wednesday, things begin to take a dark turn. We are still going to try to walk with Jesus, but, man, it’s getting harder.

We are walking with a man who is going to be hunted like an animal. A man who has to flee in the dark of night, who has to sleep with one eye open. A man who is going to weep for the world, hunger and thirst. A man who is going to go off on his own and plead with God, “What’s it all about? Is any of this necessary? Am I even making a difference?”

And we will walk further with Jesus and bear witness to betrayal, beatings, ridicule, crucifixion, and death. Many of us will have to fight off the urge to turn away, just ignore this season, and wait for the Resurrection. Skip all of this sorrow and darkness and just fast forward to the end, so we can revel in our happiness.

Yes, most of the year it’s easy to walk with Jesus. But this is the time of year when we must walk with Jesus. This is the time of year when we discover what being Christian is really all about.

For ours is not a religion that claims to be easy. Ours is not a faith that focuses on maximization of good feelings. Instead, ours is a faith of hard work. Of going out and comforting the suffering, of fighting for the oppressed, of being there for others when they feel most alone.

Because we weren’t there for Jesus.

Lent is a time for us to reflect on who we really are and what we need to change. Lent, for all it’s introspection, asks us to move. To continue moving, to continue walking with Jesus. Every step we take is change — it’s moving from where we were to where we need to be.

So, welcome to this Lenten season. Don’t sit still, and don’t be afraid, because when we walk with Jesus, remember — he’s also walking with you. — Fr. Steve

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