Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This summer, be open to God’s grace

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

The story of the two disciples encountering Jesus on the Road to Emmaus should serve as a reminder to each of us during our summer vacation to keep a sharp eye out for God and his “breaking in” to our hectic lives.

Vacation planning can be the cause of tremendous anxiety, scheduling camp sites at the beach or a log cabin in one of the national or state parks or even a room at the inn of your choice (remember the Holy Family had trouble booking a room in Bethlehem) in some distant locale.

Then there’s cancelling the newspaper, halting the mail and arranging for the neighbors to set out and take in our empty trash cans from the curb while we are gone. All before we set foot out of our door.

We pack our suitcases, load up the car, set the alarm and as we lock the front door we are filled with trepidation and a flurry of thoughts – Did I turn off the stove? Unplug the iron? Put food out for the cat?

After rechecking, we are at last in the car and on our way…

Are we having fun yet? Or are we too distracted to notice?

The two disciples from Emmaus were not having fun. They were fleeing Jerusalem when they encountered the stranger on the road. Distracted and arguing with each other, they paid him no notice. Only when he interrupted their conversation did they realize he was walking beside them.

Surprised and agitated by his questions, they tried to quickly brush him off, but he responded with great knowledge and understanding. They soon forgot their problems and desired to spend more time listening to the stranger.

Only later when he was gone did they recognize their encounter with Jesus, noting that their hearts burned within them.

How about us? If we encountered God today would we be too distracted to recognize Him? Would we stop and listen or would we brush past Him and keep on walking? Or worse, would we pull out our canister of pepper spray and let Him have it for interrupting our conversation?

As Catholic Christians, we should always expect to have encounters with Christ. Wherever we are. Wherever we go. Whether we are in the mood for it or not. In the beauty of nature or the eyes of the poor, the hungry and the forgotten.

We must not allow ourselves to become distracted but to remain alert for the signs of an encounter with Jesus Christ. Nor should we “check out” of our faith simply because we are on vacation or we will miss too many opportunities.

Jesus made time in his schedule for the crowds who followed him from place to place. And he asks us to do the same for him. If we do we will receive God’s grace and have vacation stories that friends and family will be eager to hear us tell… over and over again.

Like the ones on the road to Emmaus, we will be blessed and proclaim: God has truly risen and has appeared (to his disciples)!

Let our Easter joy continue to unfold before us as we go forth secure in our faith and ready to meet and greet the Lord when he appears.

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