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March 9, 2019: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Reading Isaiah 58:9-14
Gospel Luke 5:27-32

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

During Lent, any time that you hear the word “way” you ought to think of the Via Dolorosa: the “Way of Sorrows”. This is the way from the city of Jerusalem to the top of the hill of Calvary, where Jesus’ feet and wrists were nailed to a cross. For the Jews in ancient days, Jerusalem was the greatest city on the face of the earth. It was as close to Heaven as you could find on earth. Little wonder, then, that the city of Jerusalem was often used in the Scriptures as a “type” or symbol for Heaven. This is where the phrase “the heavenly Jerusalem” comes from.

Jerusalem was so great a place that anyone who resided there would rarely leave it. If they did, it would only be for a serious reason. But to go outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and travel up to the hill of Calvary in order to be crucified: there was a particular shame in this. Going outside of Jerusalem to be killed by the state was symbolic of being an outcast in death.

So you can see how this way—the Via Dolorosa—was not only a way of sorrow, but of shame as well. No wonder that most of the apostles weren’t willing to walk the Way of the Cross behind their Master.

But this is the “way” that the Psalmist foreshadowed: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” It is a way of contradiction, because it leads from a city of life, power and strength, to a barren hilltop of death, weakness and impotence. It is not a way that any right-thinking person would want to go, if he learned about what’s important from the teachers of this world.

But Our Lord has a unique way to teach us: a way that we learn only in the process of following Him. This way leads to mercy, forgiveness and—through mercy and forgiveness—divine love. For all the times that we are tempted by our culture to cultivate bitterness, anger and resentment against those who have hurt and harmed us, Our Lord invites us to follow Him along a different way.