Third Sunday of Easter
(Click here for readings)
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things hat had occurred. Jesus drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.
We all suffer from set backs. But how we handle them is what makes all the difference in the world. Today’s Gospel passage is an excellent reminder of just how weak we are and how easy it is to quit or give up, especially when the going gets tough; and how essential it is to never stop reflecting and praying, especially when the going gets tough.
Jesus drew near to them. A week hadn’t even passed since Christ’s death, and still two of His disciples were heading back to their homes. In their estimation, there was no longer any reason for them to be in Jerusalem. Their love story had come to an abrupt and brutal end; the one they had followed for close to three years was dead and gone. There was nothing for them to look forward to. The rumors that had been circulating were too good to be true.
A stranger approached them and asked them what was wrong. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Was it possible that someone had never heard of Jesus of Nazareth or how the officials had put Him to death? Where have you been, man?
I’ve been praying.
Facts are necessary for life, but reflection is essential for living. We need to take time to reflect on the facts of life; otherwise, we will quit living.
Taylor’s Gift. I can now tell you this story only because my very good friends, Tara and Todd, have written about it. The book they wrote is on the life and death of Taylor, their sweet 13-year-old daughter who was killed in a tragic ski accident. The book is entitled “Taylor’s Gift.”
As you can imagine, a title like that could only come after intense and exhausting personal prayer and reflection.
It didn’t come after three days.
Late one night, not long after their daughter’s death, I received a text message from Tara. It’s all a blur to me now, but thank God Tara remembered our conversation. [Taken from “Taylor’s Gift,” Chapter 19, pg 176-177]
“Are you awake?”
“Yes, what’s up?”
“I need to talk to you about something, but this is between you and me.”
“I’ve got a plan, the pain is too much, and I can’t do this anymore.”
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“I would much rather be with her than be here.”
I thought long and hard about this. What could I say? Could I blame her? She wanted to be with her daughter. What mother wouldn’t want to be with their baby?
I needed God’s help. I prayed: “Lord inspire me! Make my word your Word.” The words that came to me scared me. I wrote:
“What makes you think if you did that, you would see her? What makes you think that if you did it, God would welcome you with open arms? How selfish of you to leave the others like this!”
There was no answer.
Finally, I wrote: “Do you think Taylor would be proud of you?”
I can’t remember if she ever texted me back. Only later (from their book) did I come to know her reaction: “His words took my breath away. I knew for a fact she wouldn’t be happy with me…through his texts, Father Alfonse helped me realize it was because I was focusing on myself – on my own pain.”
Were not our hearts burning? It’s true: our lives are made up of facts, one fact after another. But for our success – and not just for our survival – it is important we look beyond the sphere of facts and enter the realm of faith through prayer and reflection.
So after careful reflection, Todd and Tara have come to understand that these text messages were an intimate dialogue with the Lord as they journeyed along the road to understanding. This is their Emmaus. The miracles that follow is their Easter morning. “Taylor’s Gift” is their very personal “Good Friday.”
Stay with us, Lord. It’s been three long weeks since the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter. How are you doing? Are you still staying strong and steadfast in your promises to the Lord, or has it been business as usual? Have you gone back to your old, very old, tendencies?
If so, then it’s time to get back on the road again and relive the mystery of Emmaus. Ask Him to stay a little while longer with you. Ask him for the grace of perseverance. (0)
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