THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: It seems to be part of human nature to look for the easy way out

By Canon Gerry Conroy

The Gospel passage today prompted me to ask if Jesus ever got fed up with the disciples? We all lose it at times with others. The constant bickering, the self-interest that leads to disputes, the disagreements. It’s all very human, but it is also very tiring and we can only put up with so much of it, even with those we love. We have all known that exasperation. It’s like St Peter asking how many times must he forgive. You can almost hear his teeth grinding and the desperation in the question. He’s had enough but he is trying because Christ asked it of them – but surely there is a limit to what he expects. 

I’m sure most of us would be more accepting of the truth that children have to learn things like the importance of sharing and also of forgiving, otherwise there would be no peace in our homes, but are we really still having to learn as adults about what is right and what is wrong! And while what Jesus says is broadly speaking interesting, practically speaking it seems to go a bit too far for everyday life. And that is the problem! It goes too far, it goes against our natural instincts which James and John perfectly encapsulate: we want to be successful, we want to prosper, we want to do well for ourselves. What Jesus says may be admirable – up to a point – but it goes against the grain. 

It raises the question of whether or not what he says is really true. Our natural instincts would draw us towards feeling that what he says is interesting but not something we would really favour since it involves too much sacrificing of our interests. In other words we would prefer something that was easier and more pleasing to us. But that doesn’t really answer the question of whether what he says is true, if it is at the heart of what gives life and makes life possible, viable, if he has gone to the core of our existence. 

It’s a bit like this Cop 26 meeting that is coming up. The are a lot of different opinions flying around, a lot of doomsday warnings being voiced and there are a fair amount of nay sayers as well. Most of the voices of doom are suggesting that we need to take radical steps to save the planet, and most of the people don’t want to hear that message because it is too unpleasant a thought that we have to make radical changes to our comfortable lifestyles. We are drawn to the ease of life so much that we can be blind to the reality facing us. We ask do we really need to be so radical in the changes we make. 

It seems to be part of human nature to look for the easy way out, to opt for the solution that preserves our comforts, and that usually means the comforts of our bodies. But that isn’t always the right solution, sometimes we need to make big sacrifices sometimes we need to let things go, sometimes we need to have the courage and determination to choose the harder way because it is the only way to get to the truth and facing and accepting the truth is the only way we can ever really move forward, the only way we can survive and even find a deep peace and happiness. 

James and John, might be closer to how our sorry hearts feel, but Christ is closer to the truth that gives life. Sometimes how we feel isn’t always the same as the Truth; then we have to make a choice.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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