From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character
Turn your ear back on the tempter when he whispers in your ear: ‘Why make life difficult for yourself?’
The Eagles famously sang that we should “take it easy” and the world beckons that we do the same. Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken stared down one “as far as I could” before deciding to take the one “less traveled by”. He said it made all the difference.
In the opening lines of The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri writes
“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.”
Dante was thirty-five years old, lost in a dark wood (understood as sin) and unable to find the “straight way” to salvation. He becomes aware that until now he has listened to the tempter and is leading himself to ruin when he is rescued by Virgil and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld, journeying through Hell and through Purgatory before ascending into Paradise.
When we try to do things on our own, and place too much trust in ourselves or in others who may have our best interests at heart we can get off the difficult path and stride onto one that appears smooth and even, but will grow crooked and lead us into the weeds.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
In today’s Gospel readings for Mass Jesus has summoned his twelve disciples and is getting ready to send them out into the world. I’m always fascinated by people who claim Jesus never existed, or that his death and resurrection were a hoax. Put yourself in the place of these twelve men who would, at His direction, go out into the world in the face of certain persecution and death and “preach the Good News.” Certainly they heard a voice buzzing in their ear asking them “Why make it difficult on yourself. Take it easy.”