Often, our relationship with God is like The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her friends search out the great Oz. Register file photo

No yellow brick road leads us to God

  • June 13, 2013

The Wizard of Oz is a true classic movie. One of my favourite scenes is when Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion arrive to see the Wizard.

As they enter the majestic palace at the end of the yellow brick road, a large reflection of a man appears and with a thunderous directive inquires: “Who dares to come and see the Wizard of Oz?” As Dorothy asks to go home, her tiny terrier Toto pulls back a curtain and the “great and powerful wizard” is revealed as an ordinary man, a con artist practising the art of smoke and mirrors to impress the people of Oz.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” he bellows.

If we are honest, there are times our relationship with God looks a lot like that. He is great and powerful and we see ourselves on a road toward Him. Along the way we make requests and when they don’t go our way, well, we mentally search for a curtain to pull back so we can declare: He isn’t real!

We think that will make us feel better and permit us to do whatever we want. But in reality God’s vision — which is true and right and good — is so much more powerful and His will for us is so much more life giving than any journey toward Oz. So how do we recognize and trust His path and know that it is real? I’m not sure about you, but I don’t see many spiritual yellow brick roads to show us the way.

First, we must be willing to meet Jesus and to stay with Him. I attended Catholic school. I was taught by some wonderful religious sisters and lay teachers, and had some impressive experiences while learning about the faith and about Jesus. But as I look back, I was not told how to actually meet Jesus.

At high school I struggled at Mass because I wanted to be evangelized and told how to meet Jesus, but the celebration of Mass presupposed I knew all about Him already. To follow Him, we must be willing to meet Him and to stay a while. This is an investment of time — in adoration, in prayers of thanksgiving, in conversations of petition. It takes courage, the courage to avoid shortcuts and walk the entire path.

St. Ignatius called his meditation, prayer and contemplative practices Spiritual Exercises for a reason — prayer is work. But it’s worthwhile work because it introduces us to Someone in friendship by pulling back the curtain of doubt to reveal, not a set of rules, but the source of all answers and all hope. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) summed it up beautifully: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

This is where eucharistic adoration is such a blessing. This is how meeting in a small group to discuss the Sunday Scriptures and applying them to your vocation or life is so enriching. Have you made an ethical choice as a Christian to follow Him or have you met the Person and decided to love Him with your life?

Second, we must be moulded by Jesus. For something to be moulded it must be held by the one doing the moulding. Is our life in His hands? Are we willing to let Him take control? This requires surrender and it will demand sacrifice. But it’s so worth it! To be moulded by Him means that we begin to look like Christ, take on the image of Christ, become recognized as Him by others. If someone tells me I resemble Brad Pitt, my ego might be fed for a few minutes (and I would question the person’s vision). But if someone tells me I resemble Christ, that means my eternal life is being fed, which is so much more important.

Do people ever “mistake you” for Christ? Do you want them to? Are you committed to this wonderful process of being moulded to look like Him as you become the person He made you to be?

If you make that commitment as you follow the road towards Him, don’t be afraid of the curtain being pulled back, for on the other side you will discover the real One.

(Fr. Freitas is the pastor at St. Mary of the Visitation parish in Cambridge, Ont. His new book Are We There Yet? is available from Catholic Register Books by calling 416-934-3410.)