“Lord, you will show us the path of life” (Ps 16:11a)
It is truly remarkable how Peter can raise his voice, speak with confidence and authority and proclaim the Good News to all, including those Jews who were directly responsible for the Lord’s passion and death. Just a few weeks ago he was willing to defend the Lord with his sword but not with his words. He could pull out his sword but could not stick out his tongue! It was and still is easier to die by the sword than it is to die for the Word.
Here I stand, nearly twenty-one centuries later. I am more than able but still unwilling to proclaim the Good News to all my brothers and sisters – those who continue to be responsible for the Lord’s passion and death. Fear grips me; the unwillingness to be put to shame holds me tight. A noose is constantly held around my neck, loose enough to breathe but tight enough to squeeze the life out of me.
This is the life of the Christian who takes one step forward and two steps back. I hate to say this but even two steps forward and one step back is not good enough. How can I manage? How can I live a life where I am constantly questioning myself, my decisions, my life, my God, my mission? It is horrible! A life full of doubts is painful. It hurts so much to smile at the camera. There are too many muscles to control when driven by fakeness.
But we manage by creating an illusion – the illusion of mastery. At the beginning of the twentieth century, man was so full of himself, more than ever before. The god of optimism had been revealed! The fountain of youth – Science! - began to produce its most potent fruits. Science would solve all our problems. Science would help us to master the elements and force them to obey our commands. The world would be broken like a horse, the reigns held tight and man would ride upon it into the Son-set, forever. God had been replaced by Technology, and man was its creator.
But that was not the case. Immediately, war broke out, the First World War stood as a horrific reminder to all the fake doctrines of progress. We had not progressed. We had not defeated man's pride. Instead, it was lavishly feeding on the living. Indeed, after the senseless butchery of the First World War, a level of mass mayhem entirely disproportionate to its rather obscure causes, it seemed that mastery has a shadow side, a negative component that grew in direct proportion to the acquisition of mastery itself. (Wilfred McClay, The Illusion of Mastery)
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were downcast. They were looking for all the wrong things. Their futile cry, “We had hoped that he would be the One” may be translated to “We thought that we could control Him” or “We thought that God could be managed.” No. The disciples were looking for answers, for meaning, for purpose and for hope. Instead, they found Jesus who is the answer to all of life's tough questions. Once they realized who He was, He disappeared from their sight but not from their presence, for He is always present in the bread, the Eucharist. They turned back only after they received Him.
In this case, there was only one way to go: BACK. And sometimes progress means going back! It meant encountering the rest of the Apostles and experiencing the source of true joy and optimism, together.
Heavenly Father, give me the strength and courage to remove the noose of sin around my neck so as to take a leap of faith that leads me closer to you. Amen.