Saturday, 6 February 2010
Lost in traffic.
Father Ignatius was on his way to the big city. He hadn’t been there for some years, and quite honestly, he didn’t regret it. He preferred his gentle life in a small town Parish church to the hustle and bustle of the big city and the Cathedral. Anyway, the reality is that he hated driving in the big city where everyone seems to go at high speed and never give you a chance to think where you’re going. Just point the car in one direction and drive – seems to be the maxim of the big city!
He had been invited by Father Gerard as guest speaker at their Youth Club. An invitation he had postponed many times mainly because of the driving involved; but he was now running out of excuses. He tried other modes of transport, namely the train as his only option; but this involved a long journey, changing trains twice, and costing a fortune. So driving it had to be.
As he approached the outskirts of the city he tried hard to concentrate and remember which turning he had to take to reach the Cathedral. He could see the large dome at the top of the hill and the golden Cross gleaming in the midday sun.
But the one-way system, and the detour he was forced to take through the park, meant that at one point he was required by the traffic system to drive away from the Cathedral; only to reach it by a circumvented route, which the town planners had devised with the specific aim of raising one’s blood pressure and to teach you tolerance and patience no doubt leading to time off Purgatory.
“And to think that these town planners go to university to learn how to create such chaos …” thought Father Ignatius as he concentrated hard not to get lost.
But as luck would have it, or was it the town-planners, he took the wrong turning at a junction and was compelled by the one-way system to drive even further away from the Cathedral. There it was in his rear view mirror getting smaller and smaller as he drove further and further away from his destination.
Eventually, he found a safe place to stop and asked a man for directions.
The man stood upright by the side of the car and looked forward in the direction the car was pointing. He scratched his head and mumbled something which the priest, sitting in the driving seat, could not hear properly or understand.
The man then turned round and looked towards the back of the car where Father Ignatius had just come from. He could see the minute Cathedral on the hill. He mumbled something else incomprehensibly and looked forward again.
“Are sure you want to get to the Cathedral?” shouted the man looking back up the hill once more.
“Yes …” replied Father Ignatius hesitantly.
“Only the Cathedral is so far away … and difficult to get to in this one-way system … I could direct you to somewhere else near here perhaps …” continued the man in a loud voice to compensate for the traffic noise.
Father Ignatius did not reply, he waited patiently in the car and said a short prayer under his breath. Eventually the man shoved his head in through the open car window and said: “If I were you Father, I would not start from here!” then he walked away leaving the stranded priest in total astonishment.
Father Ignatius drove uncertainly on not knowing where he was going. A few minutes later he saw a taxi rank with a number of taxis parked there. He stopped his car and walked over to the first parked taxi.
“Could you take me to the Cathedral?” he asked the driver.
“Yeah … sure … jump in,” replied the driver.
“No … I’ve already got a car, parked over there. You take me to the Cathedral and I’ll follow you!”
Unusual as it might seem, but that’s how Father Ignatius got to the Cathedral in good time for the Youth Club meeting.
He started his speech thus:
“What a terrible traffic system you have in this City of yours …” a few people cheered and applauded in agreement.
“I got lost … and I will need your help to drive out of the City again …” A few hands were raised and one or two shouted “no problem …” “we’ll help you out …”
He smiled and thanked them. Then, as they calmed down a little he continued:
“I stopped to ask for directions to the Cathedral … the man I asked was more puzzled than me … he looked backwards from where I came … and then forwards once or twice … scratched his head and eventually gave up and said … ‘If I were you I wouldn’t start from here!’ ”
The audience laughed.
“How lucky are we …” continued Father Ignatius, “how lucky are we that Jesus never says ‘I wouldn’t start from here!’
“No matter how sinful we are … no matter what we have done in the past … our evil deeds … our wrongdoings … our shameful history … He always says ‘I forgive you.’
“If we truly repent our sins, if we truly promise and try not to repeat them … He readily forgives us …
“He does not look way back where we came from and how we got into the terrible state we’re in now … down-trodden and broken down by the weight of our sins … He doesn’t say … ‘if only you did not do this and that all that long time ago …’
“No … He is willing to start from right here … at this very point in our lives … regardless of our past and what we have done. If we accept our sins, repent, and promise not to repeat them … Jesus will forgive us right now.
“Just ask any priest for an honest and truthful confession and that’s your starting point.
“And what is more … Jesus will not walk away like that man did to me. But like the taxi driver He will guide you all the way, step by step, mile after mile, throughout your life, all the way to Heaven.
“And unlike the taxi driver, Jesus will not charge you a fortune!”