Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Specialists In Good News
In his book called Joy, (Doubleday, 1974) Fr. Louis Evely writes: "We act as though we are specialists in bad news, when in fact we have been told that we are to be the bearers of glad rejoicing." Sadness and fear seem to be two things to which human beings are especially prone. One of the lessons of the Resurrection is that the joy which Jesus invites us to share is precisely our sadness overcome. It's sorrow turned to joy. More than ever, it must be in and through our prayer life and our Eucharistic life that Jesus is present, overcoming our sadness.
Luke's 24:13-35 provides a snapshot of the kind of disillusionment we often experience. When things don't work out as you and I figure it should, we become discouraged. In a sense, we walk off, just do our jobs by going through the motions, just endure life. Could it be that often we expect the wrong things, for example, some sense of achievement, some sense that we can handle our life's challenges by ourselves? It's easy enough to look past the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives because we're not quiet enough to realize that he's here.
The two disciples bound for Emmaus are depicted as still believing ("Jesus, who was a prophet..."), but very confused and discouraged. "We were hoping that he was the one to set Israel free...but..." This is the problem: they've lost hope. Jesus gently begins to lead them back from their despair by taking them immediately to Word and Sacrament. Actually, his whole explanation is concisely summarized in Peter's sermon in Acts 3:13-15; 17-19. He says that our life, like Christ's, is a passing-over from death to life. A real dying is necessary if one takes the business of living and bearing witness to the Gospel seriously. It involves living at the level where it really counts, and that will involve discomfort and even hurt because it involves moving into the unknown and failing many times.
It's part of being human to be fearful, saddened and discouraged. But, as I read somewhere, "Nowadays, to be on your way is to be home." The place where you and I meet Jesus, the Risen Lord is in Scripture and in sacrament. It's there that the Word is spoken to us continuously as we go our way. The Word is our bread for the journey, and we find it in Jesus breaking it for us, even in the midst of our own fragmented lives and experiences. And we find that, in this very Word, Scripture and sacrament, broken for us in our passing-over, Jesus overcomes our sadness and hopelessness. He offers us the gift of joy, the deep, true joy, not just a surface kind of good feeling. To the extent that we can accept his jouy, each celebration of the Eucharist will be for us a true homecoming. Ours isn't a religion of absence, but of Resurrection Presence. You and I are called to joy in faith. The Risen Lord is present doing the impossible, the incredible: giving us his joy in our sadness, poverty and distress. It's for us the learn well the lesson he teaches us, and become, in our turn, specialists in Good News.