|Carl Reyes ’08 M.S.
Jesus’ call to discipleship is radical in this gospel passage. I like to think that I am willing to do the things that he asks of us in this reading. Then I remember that I learned to drive in New Jersey.
There is a cold and brutal logic to driving in New Jersey that can be very off-putting to outsiders. If you can think of what good hospitality feels like, just imagine the opposite of that at 80 miles per hour. There are a set of consequences we all know how to dole out to slow or tentative drivers (mostly involving the horn). We can’t all be backed up waiting for someone who is afraid to merge, after all. The same is true for drivers who are overly aggressive or selfish. They upend the logic of the system just as much as anyone.
So it was always my policy to never allow a driver back into my lane after they passed me on the right. They think they can get ahead of whatever is slowing us down here in the left lane by zipping up on the right and cutting back in, which almost never works. My sense of cosmic justice demands that I close my following distance to less than a car length so that only a suicidal maniac would try to merge into it.
Why do I do this? Why do I do something that I know is dangerous for such a low stakes outcome? It is because I want the world to fair and just on my terms.
This is, of course, what Jesus challenges. Even though the world has systems that tell us what would be fair or just, Jesus calls us to see the world with eyes of love and mercy instead. So, I tap the breaks. Let the car merge over. I don’t want my wife to have a heart attack and no one needs to get into an accident, here. I have kids in the back seat now.