Life is a Highway

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

“Since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die.”

Ezekiel 18:28

Way back in 1991 the Canadian musician Tom Cochrane hit the charts with a song called “Life is a Highway.” That song gained more popularity when it was remade by Rascal Flatts for the Pixar film Cars. “Life is a Highway” is also a pretty good image to help us understand the scripture readings for this Sunday.

The readings this Sunday are all about people moving in different directions. So we can imagine a divided highway, with traffic flowing both ways. In the south-bound lane are righteous people who turn to wickedness, sons who say “yes” to their fathers but fail to carry out their fathers’ will, experts trained in the moral law (Pharisees) who use their knowledge not to help others but to improve their standing in society.

In the north-bound lane, we find wicked people who turn to righteousness, sons who initially refuse their fathers but then go on to do as they are asked, tax collectors who repent from extortion and prostitutes who repent from sexual immorality.

What divides these two groups is not their worthiness or unworthiness, how many good deeds they have done or sins they have committed, but the direction they are travelling.

Those who say “it’s all about the journey” are only half right. The journey matters because we are going somewhere. If we want to get to the destination we desire — heaven and not hell — then the direction we travel makes all the difference in the world. And because none of us can get to heaven on our own without God’s grace, what will matter at the end of our lives will not be how far we’ve travelled, but what direction we were headed when we died.

So what direction is your life going?

Each one of us is somewhere on that divided highway. The only question is which lane we are in. The only exit ramps are at either end of the road, but there are plenty of opportunities to make a U-turn in between. That is what it means to repent — to make a turn toward God. 

Perhaps today is such an opportunity for you.