Here is a picture I took of a parking meter. Can you see it? Its got a little blue sign above it with the letter “P”. As I sat in my car and puffed my electronic cigarette I felt the parking meter provoked me to think about the spiritual.
Have you ever put money in the meter just for enough time to get in and out of the bank? Only you find yourself in an endless queue and you know your time is up on the meter and you are eligible for a parking ticket/fine. You begin to become anxious about it a bit and become paranoid that the guy is going to come along and slam a €40 fine on your car.
In fact, you just imagine it all happening right now as you wait in queue that he is there just writing it out as we speak. But there is also a side to you that isn’t overly worried, a side to you that, having left the bank already, decides you’ll be a little rebellious and burn some more time looking in the nearest Market stall for a bargain.
By the time you return to your car, you find no ticket on it and there is that moment of relief and that giddy feeling that you got away with it.
How does all of this reflect the spiritual life?
We are all called to pray ceaselessly by St.Paul. The Parking meter is where we offer our prayers and where in return, given a ticket to place on our souls that signifies Gods reassuring protection. But what happens when that runs out and our prayer becomes dry or obsolete? We begin to get on with life but always in an anxious state. We are plagued with hidden guilt and the thought of what will happen our souls during life and when we die.
Yet even then push God away further and become more rebellious and cheeky in our endeavours, we take one step further and decide to burn some more time getting drunk and enjoying the thrills of life whilst avoiding the responsibility of our souls, ignoring the idea it might be condemned for all eternity.
So like with the parking ticket inspector we get back to our souls to either find someone there writing out a ticket, or written out a ticket and left it behind him already suggesting we are doomed or the inspector decided to overlook it in his mercy due to some charitable stranger who happened to know the inspector quite well and pleaded for our cause.
The inspector is of course Jesus the just Judge. After our initial ignorance of the fact that our prayer had become obsolete, we became more rebellious and went one step further and indulged even more in wasting time with passing thrills. But its a game of Russian roulette because you never quite know what’s going to happen in the end.
You come back to see Jesus writing that ticket, giving you the chance to plead with him for another go at life, or perhaps the ticket is written already and its too late because your dead now and there is no pleading for your soul. Thats it the time for pleading with Jesus is up and Where you are going is written up and sealed already.
Or…..perhaps at such perilous times a stranger to you but friend of Jesus still alive on earth praying a rosary who heard about your sinful life steps in and pleads for your cause, persuading Jesus to cancel your ticket to an eternity without him in the depths of Hell. Maybe something like this happens and you are set free.
So the moral of my story is … We need to keeping praying and keep our relationship with Christ burning because if we don’t, its a game of Russian Roulette. We end up living a life of anxiety and worry, a life of shameless acts and at the end of it all we may return not knowing what awaits us. There is no use in saying ” ah the parking inspector loves me he will cancel all my debt” because how can you expect someone who doesn’t even know you to cancel your debt? Have you not heard the parable of the bridesmaids? At the end of the parable Jesus says: Matthew:25:10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
So if we become anxious over a silly parking fine that is here now and gone tomorrow, how much more anxious should we be when we refuse to take care of our souls and our place in eternity? When the time runs out on our meter, believe me, its better for us to be like the man in the gospels who built his house on rock as opposed to the man who built his house on sand. To go out of our way and take the hard route to life for as we learn in the scriptures that it is a hard road that leads to life. But how many of us take this hard route?