The familiar phrase, “The road less traveled…” comes from a poem written by the great American poet, Robert Frost. Perhaps you might remember it: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler. Long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth. Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost’s poem creates a vivid image of the road less traveled---a winding, twisting, path overgrown with trees, brush and weeds bending around large boulders. As we approach the end of Lent, the poetic image of the road less traveled reflects Mark’s description of Jesus’ road to Jerusalem, and John’s reminder in today’s Gospel that Jesus chose the road that brought him to “the hour…for the Son of Man to be glorified,” that is…. his death. Jesus chose the road less traveled, and those who become his disciples may find themselves on the same road.
Jesus chose the road that has made a great difference for us. His road, clouded in suffering, humiliation and death, led to our redemption. What road will we choose? Will our path be well worn by frequent travelers, or the road less traveled? To follow Jesus, our roadway probably won’t be chosen by the socially acceptable or the politically correct. It will be a road where Gospel challenges will be taken seriously, requiring travelers to “turn the other cheek…walk the extra mile…offer their shirts as well as their coats.”
If we travel along that road, we will see road signs that call us to “love our enemies…do good to those who hate us…bless those who curse us…pray for those who mistreat us…share with those who ask us.” Our travel may often be lonely when the toll will require us not to “return evil for evil,” and remind us …” a grain of wheat must die to produce much fruit.” Traveling this road will require that we not only admire Jesus, but also follow him. Our road map will point out the distinction between followers and admirers crafted by Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher who made this distinction: “a follower strives to be what he or she admires. An admirer, however, remains personally detached and at a safe distance.”
Jesus’ life on earth was focused on gathering followers whom he formed into disciples. Jesus created the model, set the pace, and invited followers to join him on a journey of suffering and even death to everlasting life. Jesus chose the road to Jerusalem. Will we choose the same road and become his followers even though our trip may include risks and dangers? For each of us, the road we choose will indeed make all the difference.
----Deacon Wilson Shierk