Flowing water will always, always, take the path of least resistance. You can count on that. And frequently, in life, we do the same thing. We avoid doing more work than we have to in order to accomplish a task, we react to physical pain, we respond to heartache and disappointment and we sidestep those things that cause us great displeasure.
Human nature. Flowing water. Kind of the same…
But here’s an important difference. We will take the path of greater resistance if it is for a greater good. If there is something that comes from it that is worthwhile. If there is a return on our investment. All of today’s readings are about the path of greater resistance.
In the first, Ezekiel is being sent to the Israelites who are described as rebellious. In the second, Paul notes that “a thorn in the flesh was given to me” and in the Gospel, Jesus himself finds that his own reinvention from the neighborhood carpenter to savior of the world was not necessarily going to be an easy one. Yet, Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus… all persist.
Now the natural, almost obvious, place to go with this homily is to conclude that we too are called to take the path of greater resistance because the return on that investment – that being salvation and eternal life – would surely be worth whatever cost is necessary. OK, sure… but that’s not exactly where I’m going with this.
Instead, I’d like to suggest that Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus needed to reinvent themselves. To become a prophet, to transition from foe to friend, and to experience a total and complete makeover, that is… going from carpenter to messiah, took some doing.
And I’d like to suggest to you that the instinct to reinvent was not about who or what they would become someday… or the eternal reward that awaits… someday… but rather it was to recognize, to recognize and to honor who they already were.
The same is true for us. We are called to the path of greater resistance not for the eventual reward but because of who we already are. And this is one of the most critical elements of our faith. Not about the becoming, but rather about the revealing.
Here’s a metaphor…
Consider a bucket of black paint. Then envision a cup of bright red paint being poured into it. The red paint would sit within the black paint, splotches of it, puddles in and on the black paint. You would say that the red paint is distinct and that the black paint is also distinct. They are not the same things. Then, dip a stirrer into the paint and give it a good, solid mixing. Eventually, the red paint would blend into the black paint so that you would no longer see that it is there. All you would see is the black paint. But the red paint is still there, still distinct.
We were created by… science: chromosomes and DNA and all that came into play for sure. But we were touched by a creator God, infused if you will, by some red paint that is blended in. It’s there, even if it’s not obvious. Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus’ reinvention was not in the adding of the red paint, it was in the revealing of the red paint that was already there.
So, we can hear today’s readings and think only about the future reward… or we can think about revealing who we already are today.
Where’s your “red paint”? Does it show? Do others who encounter you, who interact with you, who see how you live and what you do… see that it’s there?
We are called to reinvention. To let the touch of God show through. To be a light unto the world, even if the path ahead is one of greater resistance.