Truly Living

04-23-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the things I enjoy is doing crossword puzzles. It is interesting to put words and clues together. As I read the Gospel for this Sunday (Luke 24:13-35) the word LIVE came to mind. In this passage the Risen Christ appeared to two of His disciples who were leaving Jerusalem on the Sunday after Jesus was crucified. They were leaving the scene of a terrible tragedy and disappointment. These two were in a state of confusion as they saw Jesus rejected, crucified, and buried. They had heard that He had risen, but they were skeptical and disoriented. Jesus did not condemn, abandon, or dismiss them but met them where they were - not just physically but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. They wanted to LIVE as we all want to LIVE, with hope, purpose, meaning, security, and love. And Jesus enabled them to come to the light of hope, purpose, meaning, security, and love by His presence to them.

The question this brings to mind is: How accessible am I to Jesus and His presence to me? Am I open to the thought of Him? Jesus met these two disciples where they were, not where He wanted or expected them to be. As He met them where they were He gently, but powerfully opened their minds and hearts to His love for them and the power of that love in their lives. The Crucified One was alive! Even more, He showed them how much they were a part of His life and how important they were to Him. Do I believe I am that important to Jesus?

How can I come to experience the joy of those two disciples on the road who were traveling away from Jerusalem, filled with fear of those who would reject them if it was known they were followers and close friends of the crucified one? How inspiring it is to see how they made a 180 degree turn and went back to the place of crucifixion and rejection. They embraced Jesus and His love and went back and became part of Him as the Church. The word Church begins and ends with CH which is the Greek letter Chi. Chi is also the first Greek letter in Christ. To be part of the CHurch is to be one part of Christ.

The key is to not run away from controversy, lies, sin, or evil, but to embrace our faith in Jesus and live with His mind, heart, mercy, truth, and love. As much as evil had its day with the crucifixion, it has caused the death of countless people throughout human history. Our lack of unity in faith with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name we were baptized, opens the door to factions, disagreements, and distrust. To truly LIVE we have to embrace our faith and Jesus’ presence in our minds and hearts because if we do not do that we LIVE life backwards and that is EVIL. It is interesting to take the four letters and reverse them. We can also rearrange them and make VILE. How good and how challenging it can be to keep our focus on seeking to LIVE and not to be deterred or become unwitting disciples of the EVIL one. EVIL is afoot in our nation with the scourge of abortion. That is dividing us politically, legally, morally, and spiritually. As long as this EVIL prospers our national spirit and life will be lived backwards, driving us down the road to destruction and damnation. 

The disciples on the road in this passage encountered the Risen Christ and were filled with the light of His love. They reversed course back to the city of Jerusalem that was darkened by Jesus’ crucifixion, the darkness of EVIL that seeks to blind us to the life of God’s love. Ours is not so much fear, although it is not pleasant to be a beacon of God’s love and truth in a culture that promotes, defends, and legalized the death of children in the womb. The more we willingly and hopefully take the time to pray and give thanks to God for the gift of faith, the more we bring life as Jesus did, the more we LIVE and are a powerful sign of hope in the face of EVIL. How powerful and encouraging to be able to say with St. Paul (Philippians 1:21). “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.”

Jesus did not fear the darkness, He walked into it, but rose to bring us into the light of God’s loving presence. As Jesus embraces us and we embrace Him we magnify the light of God’s love, we LIVE.

I offer Psalm 43 and a psalm prayer for your reflection.

Defend me, O God, and plead my cause
against a godless nation.
From deceitful and cunning men
rescue me, O God.
Since you, O God, are my stronghold,
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go mourning
oppressed by the foe?
O send forth your light and your truth;
let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
And I will come to the altar of God,
the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down my soul,
why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise him still,
my savior and my God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.

Psalm Prayer: Almighty Father, source of everlasting light, send forth your truth into our hearts and pour over us the brightness of your light