Journey through Lent 2018 at St. Anthony's
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
February 15, 2018

In today's first reading Moses opens the "window" for how the Jewish people can have a better life with God. He says, "If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy."

Many years ago, I was working at Chatfield College, a very small school run by Ursuline Sisters. The sisters had a very beautiful chapel on campus that I prayed during lunch. It was a wonderful time with God. However, there were days when birds would find their way into the chapel, breaking my time of peace. The worst part was that birds would see clear glass windows and mistakenly think that the windows were their way out. This resulted in their crashing into the windows until they died.

So...not only was my prayer time disturbed, but I felt the guilt of birds dying. Joe, the maintenance man's office was in the basement below the chapel. I would go and ask Joe to open a window so the birds could fly out. I learned how Joe opened the window and started doing it myself. What I discovered was that birds were hesitant to fly out the window once it was open because to the bird it looked like the same clear window that had previously resulted in the pain of their crashing.

I gained insight about life from these birds. Often in life we are shown openings to get out (insert any challenging situation) like Moses was pointing out to the Jewish people. We hesitate to take that way out like the Jewish people. Our past experiences of crashing into the closed "windows" of our lives has caused us to hesitate when presented open "windows" by God.

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus says, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." And there, God gives us the solution. For the follower of Jesus, we have to be prepared to crash (take up our crosses) into life's windows. We're not going to have picture perfect vision into what's open and what's closed. As long as we are following Jesus, He makes sure that we fly through the open windows that lead to eternal life with Him in Heaven.

John Cooper
St. Anthony Parishioner (and Pastoral Associate)