Wednesday Week 28 Year I

Here we are listening like the lawyer to Jesus going off at the Pharisees again, calling them the worst things he can lay his tongue to, and we are, as always, faced with a choice: we can get prickly and stand on our dignity the way he seems to do and come to their aid—they are after all just trying their best to be good and god-fearing—or, as we probably do, we can listen self-righteously because we have had 2000 years of thinking we know the final score—Jesus One Pharisees Nil. Either way, though, we make just that judgement, that condemnation, that Paul is so exercised about. In judging others we condemn ourselves. And, even if we keep our mouths shut, slowly the gaze of Jesus turns upon us and from his lips issues the precise measure of our problem. ‘Alas for you too because you load on people burdens they cannot carry, burdens you won’t lift a finger to lighten.’ We don’t have to be lawyers it seems to ruin peoples lives.
A time of retreat shows up just how much life with God is a life of choices. Unfortunately choices that judge others or, more likely, judge ourselves seem so easy to make. We all have our own inner-Pharisee, our own inner lawyer, ready to lay a burden impossible to bear on some poor set of shoulders. And our own will do. We all want to make life difficult. It can’t be this easy we say to ourselves. Surely there’s more to it than this? God can’t be this good, leave me this free, offer me so much with so little asked in return. If only the burden were heavier I carry it gladly. If only the sacrifice were greater I’d make it. If only the price were exorbitant I’d pay it. But what can a free gift be worth?
Maybe I’m preaching to myself again? I do that. I know I need to hear the gift is freely given, the promise generously made, the pearl without a price, the love offered without reservation, and the burden, oh the burden light. Because choosing life is the hardest thing to do because it is the easiest. So, this is my end-of-retreat prayer, my rest-of-life prayer, my every-day-of the year prayer—for me, for you, for all: if you get a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.