by Fr. Kevin Duggan, SM
Whenever I go out to lunch with my sister and her granddaughter, my great niece is given a coloring book by the hostess and a couple of crayons. I remind my great niece, in those moments, it’s best to color inside the lines. If she does so, even though it’s not always easy, the picture will be nicer and look more real. Sometimes my advice is taken and sometimes ‘not so much.
The reality is even we adults know that it’s not always easy to stay inside the lines! The hand slips, we get frustrated with the boundaries, or we decide that we like the openness of the space outside the lines. So, we venture outside the boundaries and the picture gets messy, sometimes very messy!
Wednesday’s readings (found here) remind us that God wants us to stay inside the lines. We hear Moses talk about “statutes and decrees,” and we hear Jesus talk about “the law and the prophets.” These biblical catch phrases tell me that there are lines and boundaries in our relationships with God and our brothers and sisters. These boundaries and lines, while not always easy to stay inside of, are very effective in making life’s picture clearer and more beautiful.
Jesus isn’t talking about a mindless obedience to the law. Rather, he is talking about living life in faith, hope and love. All the lines and boundaries, “laws and statutes,” have to do with living in right relationship with God, others, and all of creation. Amazingly, when we do so, it doesn’t feel restrictive. It feels freeing and brings a deep sense of inner peace.
As we journey into Lent, we are asked to think about whether or not we are ‘coloring inside God’s lines.’ If we discover that this is not always to case (as most of us fully realize), we ask for forgiveness, and the grace to get back inside the lines. In reality, it’s only inside God’s lines that you and I are going to find REAL peace.
Fr. Kevin Duggan, SM is a Marist Father currently at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
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