I am assuredly dating myself with this question, but I will press on: Who remembers the Burger King commercial from the 1970s, “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us… have it your way… at Burger King!” To distinguish themselves from competitors, Burger King wanted their customers to know that they can have that Whopper any way they liked. Though the jingle faded, the concept is alive and well. We can customize so much from cars to clothes … the age of individualism is here! You are unique and don’t need to conform to some pre-fashioned mold.
And this is true. We are all unique. Each one of us is a creation of God, made in His image to reveal His great love for us through our talents, actions and words.
However, today’s readings show us where selfishly following our own desires can lead — not with satisfaction but with chaos. Think about it. If all of us did what we wanted to do, regardless of how it affected others, what would result? We might gain some immediate satisfaction, and we might even avoid getting caught or causing bodily harm to another. Yet little by little our selfishness chips away at relationships, leaving in its wake hurt, confusion and even jealousy. We never deny ourselves anything so we never learn patience, fortitude, charity. “It’s my way or the highway.”
But God’s road is different. His road leads to Him. Lent is the time when we try to re-route our path. Where have our plans diverted from God’s? How have we twisted ourselves into knots trying to fulfill what we think is a life plan? If you’ve ever tried to unknot a twisted shoe lace or a necklace you have seen that if you pull too hard the chain can break. If we pull too far away from what God wants for us, we can weaken the links that bind us; we can break.
If I said understanding God’s plan for us, even when it involves loss, illness or death, was easy I’d be lying. If I said that in spite of difficulties, relying on God for support WILL see you through, I hope you’d believe me. “Trusting in him doesn’t magically solve problems, but it allows for facing them with the right spirit — courageously.” (Pope Francis)