Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Different Train

Without delay he called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mk 1: 20

We drive past him every Sunday, wintertime newspaperman wrapped in heavy coat and cotton gloves, his breath like cigarette smoke as he hands out his livelihood to the passing cars for a dollar. I admire his hard work and wish that I needed the paper just to help him out. For the past two Christmases, we have stopped and handed him $100 for his hard work and our peace. We have not yet asked him over for dinner.

It is not easy to interpret our personal acts of kindness…what portion goodness and what portion guilt. I suspect it’s best not to think too hard when our hearts compel us to give, otherwise our reasoning might deny the gift. But, after the gift, it is sometimes helpful to look back for introspection.

When speaking of the German Church during Hitler’s rise to power, Dietrich Bonheoffer stated, “If you board the wrong train it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”

That stuck with me. Am I on the right train? Have I boarded a train named “My Right to Happiness” or “Bound for Self Fulfillment”? If so, “running along the corridor in the opposite direction” to help those in need or to perform minor sacrifices for the Cross may be admirable and somewhat helpful, but ultimately of minimal importance for God’s Kingdom. The world has lots of trains painted with God signs headed in the world’s direction.

Some of us need to stop running and board a different train.

Dear God,
Please help me travel on the Way of the Cross and not the way of the world.

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