I recently read in a periodical an article titled, "The King's Highway," which greatly intrigued me. May I share with you the general thoughts of this piece?
Once a king had a great highway built for the members of his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited as many as desired to participate. Their challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best.
On the day of the contest the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing, fine hairdos or great food. Some young came in their track clothes and ran along the highway.
People traveled the highway all day, but each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king that there was a large pile of rocks and debris left on the road at one spot and this got in their way and hindered their travel.
At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line wearily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a bag of gold, and explained, "I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This bag of gold was under it all. I want you to return it to its rightful owner."
The king replied, "You are the rightful owner."
The traveler replied, "Oh, no, this is not mine. I've never known such money."
"Oh, yes," said the king, "you've earned this gold, for you won my contest. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow."
Mulling over in my mind the thoughts of this fable, I was reminded of the words of our Lord in Matthew 25:40, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."
Could we construct a setting into which we might fit this declaration?
A rich young ruler came to Jesus one day, wishing to tempt him, saying, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied in His unique way by asking the lawyer a question, "What is written in the law?"
His reply was that we have a responsibility in our relation to God and in our relationship to man, "Love they neighbor as thyself."
Willing to justify himself, he asked the Lord, "And who is my neighbor?" In response Jesus gives him the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:33-37: How a despised Samaritan ministered to the needs of a certain individual who in his travels fell among thieves, was cruelly assaulted and left to die. Being passed by the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan ministered to his needs. The parable concludes by Jesus asking the lawyer which of the three was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves.
In response to the lawyer's answer Jesus replied, "Go and do likewise."
Then I thought of St. Matthew's account of the separation of the sheep from the goats, 25:31-46, according to the treatment accorded those whom Christ here calls "my brethren" -- Those who unconsciously serve the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the one needing clothing, the sick and those in prison. "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."
Remember, too, "whosoever shall give a cup of water to one of these little ones in my name, verily I say, he shall in no ways lose his reward." This brings us to examine our own personal response to the needs of our neighbor.
Remember how our little journey began?
"He who travels the road best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow."
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