Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way… (Luke 13:33)
This weekend we continue our Lenten trek toward Jerusalem. Jesus is spending his journey teaching in parables and healing people who come to him – even on the Sabbath. In essence, he is laying the groundwork that will allow the leaders of the people to kill him.
It is not that the leaders were inherently bad people. In fact, in our passage this weekend, we will see some of the Pharisees (the main group of Jesus’ opposition) coming to warn him. The leaders are not automatically evil – they are just entrusted with upholding the status quo. The problem with Jesus is that he did not come to keep the world as it is – he came to turn it upside down.
How? By healing the sick and the outcast. By welcoming sinners and tax collectors. By preaching radical love. By breaking the laws that keep people from getting the help they need to live. By calling out the powers that be for the way the system continues to hurt people.
None of that maintains the way things are.
Recently, one of my Catholic colleagues pointed out that there are many, even within the church, who get angry when pastors, teachers, and other followers of Christ speak out about racism, poverty, violence, and injustice. They see these things as “too political.” He suggests that all of us should use this Lent to reflect upon “the fact that Jesus was executed as an enemy of the state” (Daniel P. Horan, OFM).
Jesus did not spend his life focused on “spiritual matters.” He cared about the ways that the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak. He focused on life getting better, more full, more complete in this world. The next world is merely an extension of the Kingdom – not an end goal we should use to set up our trajectory.
The question that Lent and Holy Week asks us to come to grips with is this: are we truly following in Christ’s footsteps? It is not an easy path. It is fraught with danger and discomfort. But Christ reigns now. God’s Kingdom is today. We need only open our eyes and ears to find it – and then use our hands and feet to follow on Christ’s own road.