Saturday 8th week of Ordinary Time
Gospel Mk 11:27-33
When I was about 15 years old, my Mom’s oldest brother spent a week with us. He was a Marine, and a Viet Nam veteran. He wanted to go climbing in one of the mountains nearby and I begged Mom to let me go with him. She finally agreed.
After several hours I was exhausted and asked my Uncle if I could head back down to the picnic area below. He said yes, but he wanted to keep on going up for a bit more. So I began climbing back down over the boulders and through the ravines. At one point, I heard a growling and I knew that ahead of me somewhere was a mountain lion. But I didn’t know where. I was terrified. If I made the wrong choice I could walk up on it while it was feeding or hunting and then I would be the mid-afternoon snack. But I knew not moving wasn’t an option either.
So I chose to work my way down the longer way, hoping to bypass the big cat.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus set a challenge to the priests, scribes and elders that questioned his authority to teach and perform miracles. He forced them into choosing either left or right by asking them where John got his authority. They were afraid to answer him. Either they had to admit who and what he was, or deny it and face the people who held John the Baptist as a holy man and a prophet.
Every day we are placed into similar situations. Do I choose left or right? And if I choose incorrectly, what is the consequence? Sometimes we choose wisely and sometimes we don’t – that’s life.
Obviously I made it down the mountain safely. What I didn’t know until a year or so later, was that my uncle was watching me and he was watching the mountain lion. If I had chosen the wrong path, he was watching and was there to protect me. It is the same way in our lives now. We may not always make the right choices, but God is there to protect us. Not necessarily from getting banged up and bruised, because we do need to learn, but he is there with us through it all, protecting the most important part of us – our souls.
Fear can freeze us in our tracks. Not moving is worse than making a choice. Fear will always be a part of our humanness. Faith in God, faith in his love and compassion is what will keep our feet moving in the right direction – toward him.