Dear old and new friends,
Covered wagon trains of pioneers rolling across the barren prairies are classic images in American history that can be a new Lenten symbol in our revolution of heart. Those early pioneers were not tourists but homesteaders seeking a better life than the one they left behind back home. Their covered wagon trains were led by men they trusted because they had some knowledge of the territory and a vision of the new land of promise.
In the second century a letter was sent to Jewish Christians that today is entitled The Letter to the Hebrews and in which those early disciples of the Risen One were urged to be faithful to him as leader of their salvation (2:10). In the letter’s original Greek, “archegos” is translated as leader or pioneer. Archegos gives us a powerful new image of Christ as the Trailblazer who continues to lead us migrant-immigrants to a new land and a new way of living.
Trailblazer Christ calls out “Follow me—westward ho” as he blazes a new trail in loving by leading us across the frontiers of love beyond family, clan or church assembly. We are to love the alien, enemy and stranger, and his greatest challenge is to love him and others as he loved us. In this New Frontier he called “the Kingdom” (translation: “God’s Land”) as pioneers we are to become a new and strange kind of people who live in peaceful coexistence instead of armed to the teeth in defensive belligerence. We generously share out bread and wealth with one another and with the poor. We lay aside prejudice to love and live comfortably with those who are sexually or racially different than us. In his New Frontier workers receive not of a minimum wage, but a living wage adequate to support a family with dignity instead the shame of welfare. Now as in the Old West some who began the journey grew weary and disenchanted by what they encountered and departed from the other migrants.
It was at this point the Archegos Christ saw some of the covered wagons of his caravan pull out and circled back to them. Arriving where they had camped he found them angrily distressed by the bizarre strangeness of life on his New Frontier. They complained that the poor given assistance had been caught cheating! The Trailblazer briefly listened and then said, “True, some given welfare did cheat. Theirs however is only minor defrauding compared to gorilla graft of giant corporations who receive billions of dollars in government contracts. Cheating is wrong, all who cheat, poor or rich, need correction.”
Lent is our annual check-up to see if today you and I are homebound, comfortable with the conditions of justice and equality in our society. Or are we faithful migrant pioneers striving to honestly follow the Holy Trailblazer across outlandishly odd, yet holy frontiers?