Once long ago I sat in my office with a young couple I had married less than a year before. She was determined to end the marriage as quickly as possible. She had found married life not to her liking. Her friends were all single and going out and meeting interesting men and she was stuck in a small apartment with her dull husband. He was tedious and their life together was full of routine. She wanted out as soon as possible. He was devastated and eager to conform to whatever behavior would keep her in the home. He was teary throughout the conversation and made ineffectual promises to change his stay-at-home ways. Eventually out of desperation he got down on his hands and knees, grabbed her legs and begged her not to leave him. It was heartbreaking to witness and an unforgettable example of how far an individual was willing to go out of love.
The parish I serve has a tradition of celebrating its parish feast as a “Jubilee Sunday.” We cancel all the masses except one and rent a great tent inviting all the parishioners to come to a single celebration followed by barbecues, raffles and games for the children. A planning committee studies the readings in advance and discerns a theme to explore. This Sunday’s challenging gospel is partially presented to you at the top of the page, and from this we culled the question/theme “how far will you go?” Jesus clearly states how nothing is to stand before our relationship with God. All distractions must be eliminated. And so this weekend we will consider the boundaries we are willing to cross in order to protect our spiritual lives.
It is such a compelling overall question don’t you think? How far are we willing to go for love, money, God, children, success, pleasure? History books are filled with stories of our ancestors crossing oceans and waging wars for freedom, for love, for God. Would we? Could we surrender a bodily organ so that another person might thrive? Would we be willing to give up a week’s holiday to work in a developing country? Would you abandon your dignity and get down on the floor and beg someone you love not to leave you? How far would you go for something vital? Perhaps we will never know the answer to that question until the day comes and we are in danger of loosing something precious.