“Jesus, Son of the Father, you show me how you live by your Word. Let your lessons be bound to my heart.”Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
For the last 31 weeks I have been participating in an Online Retreat offered through Creighton University. Anyone may start the retreat at any time; however, it was developed for and encouraged to be made following the Liturgical Seasons. Which simply put means: an outlined calendar provides a guide for making the retreat according to a schedule that conforms to the Liturgical year!
In early September our Pastor, Fr. Larry Richards, encouraged parish members to consider making this retreat. I was intrigued, looked into the specifics, and then invited a few others to join me in signing up for the 34 week retreat.
I was the only one who did.
When I first began in mid-September with Week One I began with great hope and confidence!
By the end of Week Three…I wanted to quit.
The retreat at first felt daunting – and there were many initial steps which were rather challenging for me. Understandably, whenever God calls us into a deeper relationship with Him there are bound to be growing pains; however, by following the advise of the study guidelines – to take it easy, go slowly, take a little bit each day – I discovered quickly God can never be outdone in generosity. Ultimately, through the ensuing flow of the weeks, a tremendous opening for God to work in me was being created.
Now, just 31 short (ha-ha) weeks later, I can barely believe that there are only 3 weeks remaining – and I am a bit saddened by this. However, if I’ve learned anything it is not to expect, look for, or demand anything. It’s about feelings. It’s about God’s fidelity. It’s about gratitude. It’s about a journey.
Sometimes the journey will move slowly.
And sometimes lightning fast!
But no matter – because all we need to do is give God just a little space to transform our everyday lives, a moment at a time.
This week in the Liturgical Calendar with the scriptures, as the study has encouraged me to walk my own Road to Emmaus beside Him, I’ve begun to realize the mystery of our everyday lives is – that Jesus IS with us! (With a Capital I-S!)
We just don’t often recognize Him.
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,1 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.Luke 24:13-35
Just like the disciples, who were quite caught up in discouragement because Good Friday had been so devastating to the hopes they had – we too can easily get absorbed in problems, discouragements, and worries and are thereby unable to see Jesus with us. The study encourages us to identify with the two distraught disciples with their saying, “we had different hopes.” And to share the experience of recognition in the breaking of bread. Throughout the week, in all the background times, we are to return to these thoughts. By doing so, this will help to be more conscious of Jesus’ being with us. It will also help to see and experience the discouragement and really dark moments that can happen in the day in a very different way. Some examples from the study to help better explain are:
“I find myself at a meeting with several difficult people (or on the phone listening to a friend talk about a family conflict, or I’m watching television and seeing the terrible news of war or some violent crime). The moment I feel my spirit start to go down – in the presence of such conflicts or failures at reconciliation or outright evil – I will do a very brief exercise. I will imagine Jesus: taking, blessing, breaking and giving bread. In that moment, I can be open to the grace of seeing that He is present here, in this situation, being broken and given, if only I open my eyes and see.Creighton University Online Retreat, Week 31
In this breaking-of-bread moment, in our everyday life, we recognize HE IS THERE! In that moment, we will no longer be alone. We will instead be opened to experience love and freedom.
God’s victory over this encounter with sin and death becomes very real!
In these past 31 weeks Jesus has been confronting my own discouragement by revealing himself and inviting me to fall in love with him and his pattern of giving his life away.
His gift of SELF is – for me – as for all of us.
And just as the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus with Him, recognizing this very thing – my heart is burning within me!
hugs n’ blessings for all the lessons to be learned, when we open our eyes!