Dogged determination is said to be indispensable for true success. Author Simon Sinek says “One of the best paradoxes of leadership is that a leader needs to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.”
This is so true. In leadership and in life the scripture is absolutely correct when it says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ( Proverbs 29:18) When there is no direction, no vision for the future, no purposeful direction in our lives, our communities, and our society, the people wander. They abandon time-tested wisdom for their own desires. They fight among themselves over who will lead. In other words, we descend into chaos.
But when there is a vision for the future, and the hard work of sharing that vision and teaching others how to embrace that vision, the people all pull together in the same direction and progress is made.
But, the heart of this happy prescription for peace is at the point where direction is set!
In today’s Gospel Lesson, our Church calls us to begin turning our hearts, minds, and actions to the sobering reality of Great Lent. The Church continues the loving and difficult wisdom of leading us to repentance. The Church tells us (and my precious ones, we will not escape the consequences of this wisdom) that the path of repentance is the only path that leads to true life and the happiness we were created to know. There is NO PLAN “B”!
Our Lord, in today’s Gospel, stands hours from His sacrificial death on the Cross. He is standing in the place of judgement of the Jewish leaders of His day. He is being questioned by these religious leaders of the people and they are absolutely determined to stay faithful to their vision of Israel’s future and the political peace that exists in Jerusalem. They are stubborn leaders doing what they completely believe is right for their people. The God of heaven will use their stubbornness to accomplish His divine will for the salvation of the world! Amazing!
Focus your attention on this section: “…they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ And they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’ And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.'”(Luke 22:67-70).
Determination to stick to a path is wonderful, but only if the path is the right path. There is no virtue in staying on the wrong path no matter what! By the way, the Jewish leaders who were so committed to protecting their peace with the Romans by having the Lord executed, just 40 years after they condemned Jesus saw the city of Jerusalem burned to the ground by the Roman army and the Temple they were standing in when they condemned Jesus absolutely destroyed, and it hasn’t been rebuilt to this day. Talk about a wrong path!
Today, regardless of the path you are on, our annual spiritual check-up called Great Lent, offers us once again the valuable time to reassess our life path in light of the wisdom of our Faith. This Sunday is Forgiveness Sunday, the Sunday we remember the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. Then Great Lent is upon us; the season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. This is the season for repentance, for path correction, vision testing, and a renewal of our love for God and others. This remedy for destructive stubbornness will set us on a right path where our determination will be life-giving instead of life destroying.
Today, what path are you on? Is your stubbornness leading you to deeper peace and joy? If not, don’t be foolish. Learn the gift and joy of repentance. Ask forgiveness, and use your strong will to move toward God. He definitely is moving toward you!