If we are honest with ourselves, we will do just about anything to avoid having to make a change. We are creatures of habit, some good, others bad. Even our sins can become habitual. How many times have you thought to yourself or even said to your confessor, “I keep committing the same sins over and over again no matter how many times I say that I will change.” However, even the penitent who recognizes that he or she has failed can at least cling to the fact that he or she tried.
There are others who simply will look for any excuse they can find not to embrace change. The very short passage from the Gospel of St. Luke that we proclaim today refers to such people. Using the example of John the Baptist and himself, Jesus forces his opponents to look at their hypocrisy. They didn’t accept John because he fasted so much that they thought him mad. Then they turn around and fail to accept Jesus because he eats and drinks and claim that he is a drunkard. They simply refuse to accept the message that John and Jesus had come to proclaim; namely, that the reign of God was upon them and that it was time to repent.
The last two days have been days in which we have contemplated the mystery of the cross; first from the perspective of the one who gave his life to save us, and then from the perspective of his mother who suffered with him. St. Thomas Aquinas used to say that all his theology was so much straw when compared to the lessons that are learned when contemplating the cross. It is traced on our foreheads at our baptism and is a sign we make each time we pray. It hangs on the walls of most rooms in our homes. It has a place of prominence in our places of worship. The cross is the path to change. When we accept the fact that we can gain salvation only by embracing the cross and the crucified Savior, all excuses will fall away.
If you wish to live well, look at the cross. If you wish to die well, look at the cross.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator