Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral - Sunday 22 March 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus’ words, “Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain.” (John 12.24) and “And when I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw all men to myself.” (John 12.30) give us an invitation to think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus rather than a spectator.
The poet, Robert Frost, who died in 1963, wrote these words:

‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.’

You and I know that each of us has one journey of life to walk, which is unique. Today, as we come closer to reflecting yet again the mystery of the Cross, learn the path to glory is marked by humiliation. Death must proceed the giving of fruit. The one who loses their life will find it and it is through obedience and suffering that perfection is achieved. (Hebrews)

Jesus chose the less travelled road of suffering, which led ultimately to death. People in our world reject and deny suffering as irrelevant and are burdened when it inevitably comes. The less travelled road of Jesus means that the challenge of the Gospel has to be taken seriously. For example, Jesus asked believers to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile, to offer people their shirts as well as their coats. Particularly the moment of Jesus’ invitation to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, give to everyone who asks of you, is very personal.

Our following Jesus’ less travelled road means that we become followers and not mere admirers of Jesus. Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, says that the difference between a follower and an admirer is that a follower strives to be what he or she admires, whereas an admirer stays at a safe distance. And yet Jesus does stand in judgement on admirers. Jesus’ whole life on earth was intended to form us as followers, not simply adherents of a teaching but to be authentic disciples; to leave foot prints for whichever of us become followers on the journey through suffering and death to life. Although this path is fraught with risks and dangers and means that we have to live in direct challenge to what is going on around about us, our choice to follow Jesus on the less travelled road will mean that we can make a difference.

God offers an invitation to greatness to ordinary people. When we give ourselves to him by seeing that his teachings are not just beautiful things to look at, but invite us to greatness and fulfilment, then we will see as we walk in our lives today what God asks of us are opportunities, which he will accompany with wonderful mercy and graciousness.

In Lent, as we look at the Cross, we realise the need to reach to God through prayer, to train ourselves through saying no to what we automatically want in terms of food and pleasure, so that we may use the things of the world in the service of God and in the goodness he wants us to bring to our fellow human beings. Newman wrote, “They alone are able truly to enjoy this world who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learnt not to abuse it; they alone inherit it who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.”

+ Denis J. Hart,
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