The young man walked tall and proud behind his four-year-old son. The child sat on a training bicycle with small tires holding it erect, as he rode on the sidewalk near his home. The serious-minded father hovered over his son to make sure he was safe. As the child moved forward, his dad repeatedly said, “Look straight ahead, look straight ahead. Keep your eyes on the path.” Through practice, the child developed a habit of riding a bicycle in a proper, safe manner.
The story of the father and his son gives us the opportunity to reflect on how to follow Jesus in our lives. When Jesus walked among us, he taught us to keep our eyes fixed on our ultimate goal—eternal life. By following his way and living the virtues—truth, moral behavior, just action—we, like the child, learn how to stay on the right path. In so doing, we eventually reach our full human potential and achieve our final destiny.
Just like the father watched his son ride the training bike, so our heavenly Father looks over us on our life journey. He smiles when we succeed and encourages us to get up and begin again when we fail. To achieve the end for which God created us, we travel the road that Jesus walked and look straight ahead to eternal life. As Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to follow me, he must take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24).
A priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, Father Bob Hater is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton. Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.