Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The easy road

One of my favorite books is C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letter. Lewis writes the book from the reverse, as a series of correspondence between a senior level demon, and his nephew who is only a junior tempter. The book gives instructions on how to lure humans away from the enemy, God, and into their Father's House, hell.

In today's first reading we see a similar style in the character of Lot. While in Genesis we can count on Abram to do what is right, we can also count on Lot to do the wrong thing. Lot symbolizes the bad tendencies in us.

It is worth noting that both these men are quite rich. People tend to think of Abram as a man who walked off with nothing but the clothes on his back. This does not square with the story.

In today's reading, the two families are quarreling so much that Abram asked that they separate and give Lot the choice. Lot, of course, chooses the area that looks the best, the land that appears to be most fertile. Abram contents himself with what is left. In Lot part is the city of Sodom.

Lot thinks he is smart, taking what look best, pitching his tents near the city. We of course know what really happens.

Before we judge Lot too quickly perhaps we need to use Lot as the mirror in which we judge ourselves. How often do we like Lot judge by appearance? How often do we keep the best for ourselves and our kinsmen and give what's left to others? How often do we choose what appears at the time to be the easiest path?

How many of us, in a similar situation, would have really followed the example of Abram, and been willing to step down in a fight, been willing to let the other person choose, been willing to content ourselves with the leftovers?

In today's gospel Jesus addresses these choices using the image of two gates, wide gate and the narrow gate. While our natural inclination would be to use the wide gate that is easy to get through, Jesus tells us to choose the narrow gate.

Today let us look for those opportunities to put someone ahead of ourselves, let someone go first, do the thing that makes a little more work for ourselves but in the long run is better for our environment. Have the courage to choose the narrow gate.