February 18, 2008

Down Here…

By Rusty Montgomery *

“As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the sinner to die but to turn back to me and live...”

The other day I heard someone reflect on Lent saying that it seems that everyone wanders around with their eyes to the ground wallowing in self-pity and shame. Honestly, I have to say that I see his point. It’s another way we make this wonderful season of penance about ourselves. How was your first full week of Lent? Hopefully you took some time to lift your eyes offering an act of love to your neighbor. In love we will conquer all sin! Now to this week…

There once was a story about a man who found himself trapped in a deep hole. Upon yelling for help, a preacher heard him and looked down into the hole. The man yelled for help, and the preacher took out a piece of paper, wrote down a prayer, and threw it into the hole and continued on his way. Still needing help, the man kept yelling until a doctor looked down into the hole. After hearing the plea for help, the doctor took out a prescription pad, wrote a prescription, and threw it down in the hole and carried on.

Still needing help, the man kept yelling and finally his best friend yelled down to him in the hole. Explaining his situation, the best friend said he could help.  The next thing the man knew, his best friend was jumping into the hole with him. Surely surprised, the man exclaimed, “What the heck are you doing! Now we are both stuck in the hole!” The best friend gathered himself, cleaned himself off, and looked into his friend’s eyes and said, “I jumped in because I have been down here before and I know the way out…follow me.”

I guess you could say, “that’s what friends are for.” It is certainly a heroic act to enter into an experience of a friend to show him or her the way out. We could spend a lot time talking about friendship and the significance other people play in our lives, but I want to connect the above story to our Lord.

Let us say that the Lord was the friend who jumped into the hole. The hole happens to be the world He created, burdened by sin and evil, and home to a place of the lost and broken. In a final saving act, God became man, jumped into the world to show us the way out. False prophets and teachings had gone before Him never being able to save what was lost. It was only when Jesus, born of Mary, humbled himself to become one of us, so we could at last become sons and daughters of God with a destiny way beyond the hole in which we were found.

As we have just celebrated the mystery of Christ becoming man at Christmas and find ourselves in the heart of the Lenten season, we reflect on the life of Christ and how he leads us to learn from Him, and follow him to a better place.

Following Christ means becoming like Him and let’s face it, for most of us young people that task is not at the top of our to-do list. But since we know that following humbly after our Lord is the road to true happiness, there are certain things that we need to embrace in our lives that the Lord teaches us during Lent. Through his life, passion, and death,  Jesus is the perfect example of the following…

Obedience- Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will till the very end. We too are called to be obedient to the Father, the Church, and to those who care for us.

Courage- In the face of persecution, fear, and the unknown, Jesus lived with heroic courage in following his call. We too are called to live with courage in choosing a life of faith, hope, and love, in the midst of a suffering and hurting culture.

Suffering- The passion and death of our Lord speak for themselves. The cost of our salvation was a terrific price. Jesus embraced his suffering and carried his cross so that we might have life. We too must be prepared to suffer with joy at what we are called to do, as suffering gives true life to the world.

As Jesus comes into our world and lives to show us that there is a better way, the implications of following Him are significant. We must be prepared to trust Him as he is the only one that knows what it is like to live in this world and is the only one who knows the way out.

For so long we have been yelling for someone to help us out of this hole in which we have found ourselves - and everyday we are reminded that Jesus lived and died to show us the way out.

As we move forward in Lent, let us embrace obedience, courage, and suffering in following the Lord to the hope and glory of a better life at Easter!

He heard our cry and jumped in…Let us Follow Him!

God Bless You,


Question of the week: Pick one: (Obedience, Courage, Suffering) and reflect on it in your own life. How are you living it and choosing it in your life?

Rusty is a seminarian at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Nebraska and is the co-founder of Live Greater Ministries. The ministry's aim is to invite the youth of the Church into a dialogue about the present culture and how Jesus invites us to a relationship with him, finding true happiness and greater purpose.  More information can be found on their website at www.livegreater.net.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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