A few weeks ago, we heard at Mass the Gospel in which Peter tried to get Jesus to skip the Passion. Shockingly (or it should be quite shocking), Jesus replied strongly with, “Get behind me Satan!” Whoa. Jesus responded in this way because Peter was asking Him to take a shortcut and Jesus knew that there was no shortcut to saving humanity.
There are many things in my life that I’d like to take a good shortcut from. I wish there was a shortcut out of debt, I wish that there was a shortcut to getting to my weight goal. I wish there was a shortcut to being the perfect husband. The thing is, shortcuts almost never work. Shortcuts out of debt turn out to be scams. Shortcuts to weight loss have only a temporary effect. There are no shortcuts in life.
In the spiritual life, we’d love to take a few nice shortcuts. The fact is, being Catholic and following the teachings of the Church are, in practice, quite difficult. This true freedom that the Church wants for us ironically requires us to deny ourselves. That’s just hard.
Anywhere that I really want to go requires that I have the discipline and persistence to reach the goal.
- Discipline. When you have a goal, especially a long term one, you have to have the discipline to see things through. Major weight loss can be a multi-year journey. Being the husband you want to be is the journey of a lifetime. Discipline gives us the strength and confidence that we need to reach our goal. It can also reach into other areas of our lives to help us grow. If you have discipline, you can accomplish anything.
- Persistence. Every journey is full of ups and downs. You’ll make good progress on your fitness plan, and then you’ll have a work trip and fall off the wagon. Failing to complete a goal perfectly doesn’t matter if you reach the goal. The ability to reset, refocus, and start charging again is the true mark of a man.
If Christ knew that He couldn’t take a shortcut from the cross, we should expect the same. To be the people we were made to be, to reach our Eternal Destiny, we’ll have struggles. We’ll have pain. We’ll have shortcomings. If we have the discipline to maintain our prayer life and, frankly, our love affair with God, and if we have the persistence to move past temptation and sin, we’ll make it.
There are no shortcuts to anywhere you want to be. Reaching your goals, whether they be physical, intellectual, or spiritual requires hard work and daily forward progress.