Sunday, 2/12/17 – Spiritual Navigation

I often think of life, especially the spiritual life, as if it’s a GPS. There is a starting point – where you are. And then a destination – where you are going.  If you’ve ever brought up Google Maps on your smartphone, and you enter in a destination that you’d like to get to, it’ll come back with the fastest, most efficient route. The path of least resistance.

But then it also provides optional routes – some that may avoid expressways, or toll roads, or maybe an area of high traffic. Maybe it’s a shorter route, but there are more stop lights so it takes longer. Or maybe there’s some construction. Maybe it’s a bad time of the day. You can tap on one of these alternate routes if you so choose, or you can follow the most efficient route, the first one that Google chose. It’s your choice. You have the freedom to do that. Your only goal is that you get from point A to point B, and maybe today, you want to avoid the expressway or take a scenic route.

Or there’s times, especially when you think you might be more familiar with an area than you really are, where you decide that you know a better route, only to get lost and off track, or run into a dead end, or an unforeseen traffic jam. Then you have to go back to the GPS and have it reroute you to get back on track. You made your choice, you thought you knew better. You had the freedom to do so, but rather than following the tried and true route to get to your destination, you thought you knew a better way only to be denied. Or perhaps it took you twice as long to get there.

But we have that choice.

This is so often how I look at my spiritual life, and my relationship with God. Christ is my GPS to Heaven. He’s all of ours. He knows all the roads, and He’s been down all of them at one time or another, but when we ask Him for guidance – He shows us the tried and true way. And yes, even though we have to bear our crosses along the way, if you look to Him, He will show you the path of least resistance. His path. But often, we think we know a better way.

If you look at all the readings today, there is so much jam-packed into them. Choosing to follow the commandments, the choice between good and evil, between life and death, and the underlying wisdom – that mystery beneath it all. Jesus hits on a number of choices today in the Gospel – disobedience, lust and adultery, anger and failing to reconcile and seek forgiveness, and lying.

All of these, if we let them overcome us, cause us to take a different route from the one that Jesus has laid out for us. All of these, like a route plagued with road construction, rough pavement, or a traffic jam, can be avoided. Just like the GPS will lay out a path that will avoid those areas of congestion, Jesus will lay out a path that will avoid those temptations, those near occasions of sin that would lead to those bad choices.

But ultimately, in the end, it is our choice. We can choose to drive on that route anyway, and get caught up in all the traffic. That is the consequence. It’s nothing that Google Maps did. They told us to go another way. But we chose the familiar way, what we thought was better. Ah, that traffic won’t be that bad. This thing is never accurate. I know a better way.  But sure enough, there we are, sitting on the highway when we should be wherever we are going.

How many times do we say this to Jesus?  Ah it won’t be that bad if I get on Facebook and read all those angry comments. They won’t bother me. Or I’ll just go to this website and look at these pictures, just this once. Or, it’s not a big deal to take part in a little gossip. Or, I’ll just have one drink at the bar, there’s no problem in having some harmless, flirtatious conversation. Or I know I gave them my word I would meet this deadline, but I’m working from home, I’d rather get out and enjoy the weather. I’ll do it later.

These are near occasions of sin, those traffic hazards, those bad routes that Jesus is trying to help us avoid. And so thats what he means in the Gospel today, when He says:

“If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.”

He’s not literally telling us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hands – but He’s simply saying “Hey, avoid this situation that might cause you to get upset and angry, and say something you shouldn’t. Or don’t put yourself in a scenario where you might be tempted by pleasure, or by your pride and do something you will regret…”

Avoid those near occasions that might cause you to make bad choices. Avoid those bad routes.

From time to time, though, we will make poor choices and we will take a bad route, or we will simply get lost. Christ is there though, just like a good GPS, a perfect GPS, to reroute us and get us back on track, and if we trust Him, avoid trouble along the way.

He provides the spiritual navigation we need in our lives to get us to our eternal destination.

Today’s readings for Mass.

SIR 15:15-20; PS 119; 1 COR 2:6-10; MT 5:17-37

About the Author

My name is Joe LaCombe, and I am a writer in Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA. My amazing wife Kristy and I have been married for 15 years and we have an awesome little boy, Joseph, who is in 1st Grade! We are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Indiana where we volunteer with Adult Faith Formation, most recently with the marriage enrichment ministries. To see adults, and married couples embrace the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful thing, and being able to tap into my experiences and bring the message of God to people through the written word is a passion of mine. I am an avid runner! I love to run and be out in the nature that God created, so you will find me running not only on sunny days, but rainy days, and even snow! I love to train for and compete in distance races, and find a deep spirituality in running, and I see distinct parallels between running and spirituality and life. I am excited and extremely blessed to be able to contribute to this website and look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences!

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  1. Jesus is the supreme Navigator, He takes me through less painful path.

    Joe, this is awesome. It prepares my meditation on today’s readings as I attend Mass in few hours from now.

    Thanks and God bless.

  2. Hello.

    A very inspiring and insightful reflection.

    (I am forwarding it to family and friends)

    Thanks and God bless

  3. I am inspired Joe by this reflection. I am in a mass celebration already, may Christ continue to navigate me and my fiancee whom I cherish so much. God bless.

  4. Thanks Joe…
    If all who bear the name (Christian) follow the through navigation (Jesus), the world would be a much better place…
    I’m I read your piece this morning.

  5. Thank you so much for this reflection. Was looking for a way to explain today’s reading to our RCIA catechumens and candidates by using something they could relate to. Wonderful image for them and me. God bless you for your wise and commonplace connection to today’s readings.

  6. Thanks Joe, this is a great analogy! It is extremely helpful to think of Jesus as our GPS system. And man, do we lose our way at times. Thank you and God bless.

  7. This is an incredible analogy that is so easily understandable to us in this digital age when we so frequently look to map apps like Google map for directions! If only we could remember to look to and rely on the perfect life direction that we have all been given by Jesus! I will think of and share this brilliant analogy often – thank you!

  8. That was a great reflection..i missed reading the reflections the past few days (since nothing was posted here the past few days) and this article just quenched the thirst i’ve had…

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