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Lent 5 B ~ "Choose Your Adventure" ~ Rev. Benjamin Roberts, D.Min.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am there also will my servant be. When I was a kid I used to read these “Choose your own adventure” books. The set up for these books was that you begin reading the story, usually a war story of some kind, meeting a few characters, and then about every ten pages the plot would develop and you had to make a choice.  “If you want your unit to take the east road, turn to page 28 – If you want to take the western road, turn to page 39.” And so it continued.  Each choice led to another series of events and another choice, until the mission was accomplished. And if I made the wrong choice, there was usually some way back. I loved reading these books, because I wasn’t just a spectator to a story, I was part of the adventure.

   My brothers and sisters, we are not just spectators to the story of the Jesus Christ. We are not just casual observers to the events of Jerusalem that we will recall in the coming weeks. We are part of the adventure. In our Baptism Christ claimed us for himself. He joined us to his journey, to his adventure and his mission. The Lord, as he promised Jeremiah, has made a new covenant with us in the blood of Jesus Christ. He has placed his law within us and written it upon our hearts. He is our God and we are his people. We are not just spectators. We are part of the adventure.

    We spend a little less than half of our liturgical year focusing on the life of Jesus.  The remainder is spent with particular attention to his teaching. During this Lenten season, we focus in a particular way on some of the central events of the life of Jesus. We begin with his temptation in the desert and journey to his passion and death on the cross. We join the Lord Jesus as He walks the way of the Cross. And the Lord Jesus joins us as we walk our own way of the cross.  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am there also will my servant be.

   How then, do we who seek to serve the Lord Jesus follow him? And where is Jesus that we will be there with him?  Look to the walls of this Church, and you will see the fourteen stations. You will see the path that Christ our Savior has walked ahead of us, the adventure he invites us to join. And when you look to the fourth, fifth and, sixth stations you will see three people who served the Lord and followed him.

   In the sixth station, we find Veronica bringing her veil to wipe the face of the Son of God. What a simple and tender gesture. What comfort this must have brought to Jesus.  The Lord has said that whoever gives even a cup of water to his servants would be rewarded. What must have been her reward? In our lives, every day we have opportunities, probably many, to perform small acts of charity, small acts of kindness, and in them we serve and follow the Lord. We offer a word of encouragement to a brother or sister in Christ; we make some small sacrifice of time; something as simple as a smile, and we have touched the face of Jesus as he journeys to Calvary.

   Simon of Cyrene we encounter in the fifth station. Reluctant at first, he actually helped to carry the cross of Jesus. He was invited to join the Savior in a more profound way.  He shared physically in the sufferings of Christ.  We too, often have this opportunity. It may be our own suffering due to illness or some other cause, or it may be that we help to carry the cross of another as they are in their sufferings.  When we care for the sick, when we go out of our way (even just slightly out of our way) to help another, when we unite our own sufferings to the sufferings of Christ, we help to bear the wood of the cross on which hung the savior of the world.

   And our hearts almost break at that fourth station. There we find Mary. How much did our Blessed Mother share in the sufferings of her son. Saying nothing, showing everything that a mother’s love can provide; her whole life was at the service of the Lord, and she loved him. She was there. And perhaps, in some situations, that is what we are called to do. Be present. BE REALLY PRESENT.  And love. 

   And in doing so, we serve and follow the Lord Jesus. We are no mere spectators. We are part of the adventure. We join with Veronica, and Simon, and Our Lady.  We join with Peter and Paul, and John and Patrick and Margaret Mary and Dymphna, and Therese and all the holy ones.  And some days that adventure will lead us Calvary.  We will go to the cross for Jesus promised that where he is we also will be.  

But the good news is that the adventure does not end with a cross on Friday afternoon. It does not end with the stone rolled in front of the tomb. It did not end for Jesus and it will not end for you or me. But, of course, we still have a few pages left in this chapter. We still have a few days left for the Lenten journey and we are not spectators. We have joined in the adventure. Amen.     

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