When life breaks your heart: Mary is there

The long silent Holy Saturday…. Mary’s heart broke anew as she retraced in her memory every pain-filled step of her Son to Calvary, heard once more every gasp for breath, every word of his resounding in her soul… Mary was mother and mourned the limp body of her Son laid in her arms and then buried in the earth. Cast into the fire she waited, knelt before the Father, wept to wash away the pain.

On Holy Saturday I imagine Mary as the mother who in her humanness shared the misery of so many sorrowing mothers who worry for their children, who have life wrenched from their hands. Parents who see their children absorbed in evil or lost to the evil of another or swept away in accidents beyond their control.

We all can draw next to Mary when the night falls on our joy.

We can be sure she understands when our hearts break, when the desert sands swirl around us making us lose our way. When we fear for a loved one, and when we face our powerlessness to keep evil from affecting another, our powerlessness in the face of death.

With what tenderness must Jesus have approached his mother the morning of the resurrection. With a joy that for all its glory could never erase the wounds of the past two days. Both mother and Son forever would bear the agony of human hearts broken open on the edge of pain…the same that we all bear in some way in life. Mother. We call her mother. She is the one who knows. Who stands by us when we walk amid the flames.

40 days of quiet joy, almost learning to breathe again, to trust again, to invite the sun’s splashing splendor to surround the disciples nearest to Jesus and his mother. Mother and more, the Risen Master pulled Mary into the center of the tiny community he would leave behind as he returned to the Father, a community of “sons” assigned to her from the altar of the cross. She was not only his mother but theirs. And in the nine days which they spent locked in retreat in the Cenacle, she quietly took on a mother’s role of teacher and guide, listener, getting to know each of the apostles with their specific gifts and challenges, knowing them as fully and wisely as she knew her Son. Their souls an open book to her tender searching eyes, as she helped each become more a bearer of Jesus. She knew just the right word for each, teaching them to pray, to trust in the Spirit’s advent promised by Jesus. In those nine days they gathered around their Mother and Teacher.

When the Spirit fell upon the apostles and those in the Cenacle, she encouraged them to go forth bearing the message of her Son to the world. As a mother she remained in the background, praying for her “children,” encouraging, supporting, loving. She walks through history bringing us Jesus, the mission she received at the Annunciation and which she carried out through her life. She brought Jesus to Elizabeth, and John the Baptist leapt in her womb for joy. She presented Jesus to the shepherds and the magi, and they left filled rejoicing. She has appeared throughout the centuries around the globe, continuing to call us to live the Gospel and love her Son. And she speaks to us in the quiet of prayer, knowing our souls intimately…our every need, desire, struggle, pain.

On the Saturday before Pentecost, the Pauline Family celebrates the Feast of Mary who is the Mother, Teacher, and Queen of the Apostles. Blessed James Alberione, our Founder, wanted to go back to the very source of Marian devotion in the Church, and at the source of find Mary as Queen of Apostles.

Mary is an apostle because she gave Jesus to the world. As his mother and ours, she has a unique vocation and gave Jesus to us in a way that no one else ever could. As Alberione put it: “By nature Mary is essentially an apostle. She came to give Jesus, to bring life to souls, to be mediatrix and distributrix of grace. Mary came to bring us the Life—Christ. She is an apostle in the prophecies of the Old Testament, in life and in heaven.”

On the spiritual level, every baptized Christian is also called to bring Jesus to the world today. So Mary is our model for evangelization. She can help us become bearers of Jesus, teaching us to “put on” Christ in our mind, will, and heart so as to live and serve as true disciples. She loves, guides, and supports us just as she did with the first disciples and apostles of Jesus.

As Mary walked the road to Calvary and now the roads of the world, she has only one desire: that we know and love her Son, that we find grace and glory through obedience to him.

Today my heart ached to be able to hold a friend who was scared about the health of her parents, a friend several states away. I had to step back and remind myself that Mary understands this not-being-able-to-take-away-the-pain-of-another. I can stand in the fire with her at my side. There is a comfort to that. But my devotion to Mary as the Queen of Apostles means she helps me take one step further: she helps me find Jesus in this experience; to put on Jesus’ thoughts, words, behavior; to want what Jesus wants in this situation, and then to give Jesus to my friend through prayer, words, and love.

This Saturday, let us take again this magnificent prayer to Mary given us by John Paul II, drawing close to her in our every need, allowing her to be our mother, teacher and queen.

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
[Mary, Mother, Teacher, and Queen of Apostles]
pray for us.

Amen.

August 15, 2004

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

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Easter: From Ashes to Glory

All of us were glued on the Monday of Holy Week to phones and computers and television screens, to twitter feeds and facebook posts as we followed in dismay the blaze that was collapsing roof and spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

I closed my eyes and imagined all the people who had contributed to building Notre Dame Cathedral through the 2 centuries that stretched between 1163, during the reign of King Louis VII, and 1345. Craftsmen, artists, masons, architects, carpenters, painters, sculptors…all of them gathering around Our Lady in heaven with sorrow over the impending collapse of this magnificent icon of Christianity that bears her name, the cultural and religious heart of the French people and of all Catholics.

Our Lady received them with such gratitude for all they had done in her Son’s honor with a calmness that seemed out of character with all that was happening. And as I prayed, she seemed to say the words she has always said, “Fiat…. You will see that all shall be for God’s glory.” 

On Good Friday we remember the horror of the three hours Mary stood beneath the cross to which the Son of God, her son, was nailed. Jeered, derided, mocked…. Betrayed, thirsty, unable to breathe…

Moment by agonizing moment the fire of his love that had burned so brightly when he was alive seemed to flicker more weakly until, at last, she held his lifeless body in her arms.

“Fiat.” Perhaps the hardest Fiat of all.

There are no ashes where there cannot also be glory.

Notre Dame will rise anew from the ashes because of the millions pledged for the Cathedral’s renovation. In five years, as President Macron has promised, France will once again have its cultural and religious heart restored in the Notre Dame Cathedral. It will be a five-year intensive “retreat” for the entire country and for all Catholics as we follow the progress and prepare for the first liturgies of the opening day.

But the “glory” to which Our Lady in heaven referred is more than architectural splendor and a sacred space of worship that represents the heart of Catholicism and the French people.

The glory began already in the darkness of Monday of Holy Week and continues in the hearts of all of us who are yet pondering in our souls what this inferno of Notre Dame means spiritually to us personally, to us as Catholics, to the world as a whole.

In the marrow of our bones, we feel that this devastation of the sacred in the most sacred week of the year, carries with it the mystery of a message in a language we can no longer understand.

We no longer know how NOT to understand…Marian NOT understanding as she stood with peaceful faith at the foot of her dying Son.

We no longer have a comfort level with trusting that even if we don’t understand what is happening we can be absolutely certain that God is reliable and all will be for God’s glory.

This is now Easter week. And once again Our Lady is our guide to understanding the ways of God even in the midst of tragedy and loss.

All eyes have turned to her as she turns the attention of the world to a place of sacred worship of her Son.

We treasure in our hearts what we have seen and heard.

We ponder what it can all mean.

We ask the Holy Spirit to show us the deeper wisdom in all that has happened.

We enter with greater reverence our own sacred buildings of worship that, although they are much humbler than Notre Dame Cathedral, are nonetheless filled with myriads of angels and the presence of the Risen Lord in the Eucharist.

We rest with the Word in Scripture and let the dust settle so that we might be taught by God whose thoughts are far above our own.

We rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, as Our Lady must have done so, knowing that indeed God has the whole world in his hands.

In the ashes of last week, in the ashes of all of Lent, is the astounding way in which God’s glory, in ways incomprehensible to our little minds, continues to save us from ourselves and from the power of the Evil One.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. Alleluia!

 

 

 

 

Blessed by My Cross

My friend, you who are the delight of the Lord, sought-after by your God, blessings!

Wherever you are I want to encourage you to cast away every fear, that you may walk more boldly in Christ, for in him God has chosen you before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

The road is narrow and at times a difficult climb, but we will walk the road together. We shall say, “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me as you will.”

These words may seem frightening, for we hand over our future and the control of all that occurs to God’s tender regard for us. What a mighty surrendering trust it takes to utter these words with absolute sincerity. The Annunciation and agony of the Savior in Gethsemane’s garden crystallized in these words: Behold the handmaid of the Lord…. And Not what I will, but what you will.

Sometimes, I cling so strongly to my own fears that I am unable to say these words, “Do with me as you will.”

From the first cry of the newborn’s wail to the final sigh of the crucified Savior, these words ring out. The tiny child lying on the straw on a cold winter’s night in the small town Bethlehem is the mystery of Jesus’ life that most fills my spirit. I have small reminders of Christmas around me wherever I live or work: a statue of Mary lifting into the air her son and the Son of God, a very small nativity set, a suncatcher on the window that depicts the manger. Christmas is never far from my mind.

Yet my life, as perhaps many of yours, has been marked by the cross.

Life and death.

The fresh innocence of beginnings and the heavy struggles of adult life.

The joy of a mother’s love and the anguish of a mother’s agony as she stands beside her child to the end.

The wood of the cross mounted on Calvary’s hill didn’t come as a surprise to Jesus and Mary. Its long shadow cast itself into their lives very early after Jesus’ birth. A sudden departure in the night at the warning of angels, fleeing to Egypt to escape the hands of Herod who would extinguish the Light of the World that his own light might flicker in the darkness a few years longer.

From the beginning the darkness wrestled with the Light. We often hear that the name Bethlehem, means House of Bread, which is only one possible meaning of the name. You see the word “Beth” in Hebrew means house. The word “Lehem” has two different possible meanings. The first refers to leavening dough in order to make bread. The second means “hand-to-hand combat,” where we are stretched and wounded throughout our lives which are punctuated almost daily with the struggles of human existence. It is as if we are thrown into the arena and must fight for our lives that Light might triumph. Or is it that God fights for our lives? The tree of life is planted in our very heart.

The cross, as it has appeared in my life, has been this wrestling match between Jesus and the passions that pummel my heart, between the force of Love and the shadows of darkness. He has wrestled with the immaturity of my heart and the prejudice in my mind. I was untested and unable to respond to him wholly without a lifelong struggle of repentance in which I discovered my limits and the wondrous call to become fully human in Christ. A call that was beyond my human limits. The wounds of love that I bear from experiencing the cross, these alone could bring me to the glory and joy of Christ’s vision for my life.

As I have watched how Jesus has fought for my very life in the crosses that have become divine wrestling matches through the years I have learned three things:

  • When life is brought to a shabby wreck through illness, failure, fractured human relationships, the bitter awareness of sin, it is this paradoxically that is the place of my great hope. He has given me the gift of sight to see beyond the visible to his invisible Love at work.
  • Jesus has defeated my logic and led me out of the prison of having to understand everything. The cross as it appears in one’s life is often illogical compared to what we think should happen. To realize that the conclusions of my rational mind are incomplete, to open myself to paradox, and to silently wait for understanding to be given to me has brought much anguish…but slowly I’ve learned that Jesus can be trusted.
  • The situation that has defeated me has only done so that I might see how Jesus fights for me, that he himself might triumph in my life. The cross is essentially how God works in and through the way-things-are to defeat the darkness that still struggles for the upper hand in my life. I have been blessed to realize, at least in my better moments, that I want to let God act. In the words of Job, I am finally able to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (cf. Job 13:15).

Friends, Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, stands with her Son as he hung on his cross, and she stands here with each of us. Whether the cross enters our life through loss, failure, sin, illness, relationships, Mary is with us because she knows our sorrow. She herself has lived through the agony of the moment-by-moment struggle to make sense of pain, to find a way forward, to reframe what is happening into something our minds can comprehend. And she knows the final leap of faith, the only thing that can make sense of this hand-to-hand combat we call our life.

I am sure of it. My crosses have become my blessings only because of this strong and tender presence of the Mother given to me at the foot of Jesus’ cross. She is the strong woman who teaches me how reliable God is, how ultimately secure I am in saying to him, “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me as you will.” There is no easy way promised to us as we whisper these words, trembling perhaps, but wanting to give him everything. But it is God himself who guarantees our ultimate and absolute trust. When we have gotten to the end of our rope and the bottom of our heart where we find emptiness alone, God himself can take over where we have discovered ourselves impotent. He who has chosen us before the foundation of the world to be holy will guarantee that we are so, if we but repeat with every breath of our life: “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me what you will.”

 

Lenten Journal First Week of Lent

We start Lent with a story that reminds us of our choices: Jesus is being put to the test. Imagine the desert into which he went: immense stretches of barren land. No trees, no running water, at best a cave or two in which to hide from the worst of the sun’s heat. This is an environment in which people die—and quickly.

But Jesus wasn’t just in an inhospitable environment: he was fasting, an incredibly lengthy and painful fast. As we begin Lent, it’s natural that our thoughts also turn to fasting. It’s a necessary spiritual practice (Jesus didn’t say “if you fast,” he said, “when you fast”) that’s gone largely out of style. And while for many people missing one meal seems a significant hardship, it’s also not enough to learn about hunger, to feel real hunger. Part of the practice of fasting is what we learn from it, from the emptiness inside, from the ache: it sharpens our senses and helps us focus.

DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE JOURNAL

Why I want to breathe in the New Year

A week before Christmas I stopped. Or rather I was stopped, called up short, forced to face some facts I would have preferred to ignore. In my anything-but-quiet heart, I began to connect the dots over the past few months, beginning with a couple unexpected changes I hadn’t seen coming, health issues I had overlooked, and a disappointment that seemed to have come from nowhere. As I stewed in the mess that now seemed so obvious, passions tugged at my mind and heart till they seemed to be nothing more than punching bags. Layer after layer of painful memories surfaced, hurts ignored, forgiveness never offered, losses never acknowledged.

It was time to stop and breathe.

At the end of a year, the events of the past twelve months can tug at the edges of memory with a demand for our awareness. If they are too painful, we are too busy, or issues are too complex, these situations and events will settle down uneasily, but they will never go away. Facing them gently, as we are able, or when the Holy Spirit raises them to our awareness, brings peace. This gentle encounter with truth can help us relax, release our anxiety, settle our passionate demands, and let us hear the voice of our King and Savior Jesus.

I’m breathing in the New Year 2019, so I can hand over to Jesus all the ways I’ve disappointed myself and others and calmly settle every unmet expectation.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus leads you into this newness. He walks beside you, he holds you in his arms, he welcomes with the kiss bestowed by the Father on his Prodigal Son. Take a deep breath. Believe.

As the hours wane on this past year, allow all your worries and pains to sift slowly into his Heart. There they will be lost forever in the fires of his Mercy.

And there begin 2019 with a heart made new by his Love.

How do I overcome fear? Meditation on the precious Blood of Jesus

My friend, upon whom God’s unmerited favor and spiritual peace has descended in Jesus Christ!

Whoever you are, I welcome you. With all your joys and fears and resistance and desires. With your longing for peace with God and harmony, inner unity, and spiritual serenity…

Just today I was inspired to pray in adoration to the Most Blessed Blood of Jesus and was led to a prayer written by St Albert the Great. Let me share it with you:

I adore You, O Precious Blood of Jesus, flower of creation, fruit of virginity, ineffable instrument of the Holy Spirit, and I rejoice at the thought that You came from the drop of virginal blood on which eternal Love impressed its movement; You were assumed by the Word and deified in His person. I am overcome with emotion when I think of Your passing from the Blessed Virgin’s heart into the heart of the Word and, being vivified by the breath of the Divinity, becoming adorable because You became the Blood of God.

I adore You enclosed in the veins of Jesus, preserved in His humanity like the manna in the golden urn, the memorial of the eternal Redemption which He accomplished during the days of His earthly life.

I adore You, Blood of the new, eternal Testament, flowing from the veins of Jesus in Gethsemane, from His flesh torn by scourges in the Praetorium, from His pierced hands and feet and from His opened side on Golgotha.

I adore You in the Sacraments, in the Eucharist, where I know You are substantially present.

I place my trust in You, O adorable Blood, our Redemption, our regeneration. Fall, drop by drop, into the hearts that have wandered from You and soften their hardness.

O adorable Blood of Jesus, wash our stains, save us from the anger of the avenging angel. Irrigate the Church; make her fruitful with Apostles and miracle-workers, enrich her with souls that are holy, pure and radiant with divine beauty. Amen

The words in italics from this astounding prayer struck me this morning in a way that I had never been impressed before. St Albert says that he is overcome with emotion thinking that this blood of Jesus passed from Mary’s heart into the heart of the Word, the Divine Person of the Logos. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (no. 466ff.), “everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject…Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God.”

Thus, St Albert states, eternal Love impressed its movement on the virginal blood of Mary, which was assumed by the Word and deified in His person…becoming adorable because it became the very Blood of God.

So what does this mean for you and for me, my friends? After a recent article I noticed a comment with the question, “How do I go about letting go of fear?” My friend, all that St Albert says in this prayer says one thing to us that is truth: our very human nature has been taken up into the divine person of the Word of God.

O most precious blood of Jesus, I adore You enclosed in the veins of Jesus, preserved in His humanity like the manna in the golden urn, the memorial of the eternal Redemption which He accomplished during the days of His earthly life.

We intentionally and affectively say “YES” to that dynamic movement in the best way we can. But we live now hidden with Christ in God because our human nature has been associated with the divine nature and can never be separated. The essence of our redemption lies in the lifting up of human nature into the everlasting communion with the divine life which was realized by Christ’s redeeming work.  The Incarnation then is the union of the divine majesty with human frailty and therefore the ultimate redemptive act of God.

We can be confident, then, that Jesus lives on as true God and true Man, bearing in his divine Person the pain we each suffer in our humanity which he associated to himself through the incarnation. Our worries, our sufferings, the drama of pain and abuse and failure and discouragement and powerlessness and need…. He willingly bears the full impact of our suffering and pain from the injustices received through the sin and failure of others. Jesus cares for each of us as he cares for his own Body, restoring us in hidden or obvious ways in resurrected glory.

O most precious blood of Jesus, I adore You in the Sacraments, in the Eucharist, where I know You are substantially present.

I place my trust in You, O adorable Blood, our Redemption, our regeneration. 

So we can remind Jesus:

I am yours. You are mine. I am totally your care and responsibility. You have taken me up in the Ascension to a place in the heavens where you are seated at the right hand of God. I can’t understand this. I can’t comprehend a wonder so mighty. But in this you ARE the way for me, taking on human nature and bestowing upon it the fullness of grace, making it capable of ascending to God. You ARE truth, teaching me that to be truly human is to be in you knit to your divinity. You ARE life, my only life, my only hope, my only drink. my only grace, my only nourishment. Your Incarnation empowers me to live as Christ, to love as Christ, to serve as Christ and to be one with Christ.

O precious blood of Jesus, make our souls holy, pure and radiant with divine beauty. Amen.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mid-Life

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ipwfc-9c0bc7

In the dining room of our house is an unassuming image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus embroidered by my grandmother. I can’t remember a time when it hasn’t graced the walls of our home. Beneath it is a simple glass shelf, a small votive candle, and a pamphlet about the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home.

Another image of the Sacred Heart stands out from my childhood. In St. James Church, our parish, to the right of the main altar was a marble statue of the Sacred Heart. I often would stand before the Sacred Heart of Jesus and pray, and lighting candles there was special, especially as a child. Even today when I return home for vacation, I stop to pray before this statue when I make my Hour of Adoration in the church each morning.

In my teenage years I read The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From what I remember, each chapter of the book developed one of the virtues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we could imitate in our own life. The text was structured in the form of a conversation between the disciple and Jesus. When I read the book I could “hear” Jesus speaking to me.

Those are beautiful memories. Today in my fifties, however, after half-a-lifetime or more of relationships, problems, dreams, the joy of giving life and love to others, disillusionments, sorrows, my devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very different. Today I talk about ways in which someone in their fifties lives their love for Jesus and their devotion to his most Sacred Heart.

5 – When you feel you can’t move on you’re not alone

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4xp3m-9c0ba6

The woman bent double who was healed by Jesus is our guide today. What was she thinking all of those years, about herself, about life, about others as she waited all those years for a miracle. She teaches us who may feel the same way, that we are not alone. Our lives are woven into this huge tapestry of love and mercy and compassion. In some place we are also like looking for healing. We may have an illness, a disappointment, a failure, a secret we haven’t told anyone, family expectations. Our discussion looks at how we can move beyond the point of accepting that nothing can change, that this is all there is. It is easy to do, but it costs so much. It is the face of Jesus, the call of Jesus, even today, that heals…. It is from Jesus that we learn who we really are. We learn to stop writing our own stories we feel comfortable living with. Jesus shows us how to emerge from the stories we are telling ourselves about our lives, our past and disappointments, our future.

4 – Nothing is ever lost – St Peter’s lesson for us

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-9sb78-9c0b38

St Peter guides us in our own journey of finding peace in our lives, even after our own regrets. We discuss the power of our own self-image and failure. Peter shows us how to be courageous in following Jesus no matter what devastating losses and disappointments we have lived in our own lives. Peter shows us that failure is a part of our journey to finding Jesus and his tremendous love. Regrets are devastating on many levels, but they are in some way our history in learning our own place in relationship to Jesus and our own place in salvation history. Nothing is ever lost.

Meditation Six: Heal From Fear and Disappointments

“Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32)

The banging reverberated down the empty Jerusalem street cloaked in inky blackness. “I know they are in here,” Cleopas said under his breath to his companion. “Peter!” he called in a loud voice. “It’s me! Cleopas! Open the door. We’ve come back from Emmaus! We’ve seen the Lord! Let us in!” 

Step One: Allow yourself to go within. Embrace the stillness inside yourself, the peace. Even if you don’t feel it right away, it is there. Take a few moments for your whole being to settle down into that space in the center of your soul where God dwells. Even if you can’t feel him or sense him, God is there, shining, giving, and loving. It might help to picture a bright light, or a gentle candle, in the center of your heart, to represent God’s radiant presence within you.

Step Two: When you are settled, read the accounts of some of the experiences of the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 24:13-49. As you read, focus on the experience of Cleopas as he walked on the road to Emmaus and later returned to Jerusalem to notify the other disciples. Imagine the fear and disappointment he must have been experiencing after the death of his beloved Lord. When you have finished reading, sit in silence for some time.

Step Three: Slowly read the passage again. When you finish, you may wish to use the following guide to enter into Cleopas’ experience to find healing.

Praying with Cleopas

  1. Cleopas must have been frightened and confused as he walked to Emmaus! Have you ever felt like all is lost before? Imagine you are Cleopas, walking down the road to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. What regrets are you running from like Cleopas and the other disciple? Where are you trying to control your life? To fix a problem your own way? To redirect your own life without the presence and power of Jesus? Experience Cleopas’ joy when he realized that Jesus had appeared to him. Have you ever felt a change from dejection to joy in a few short hours? Do you identify with Cleopas’ sadness or his joy?
  2. Imagine yourself in the room when Cleopas and the other disciple returned to tell them what happened to the disciples who were in hiding. Watch the scene play out. You can imagine yourself as one of the people in the room or you can be yourself. You can watch what happens or participate. Allow your imagination to take over as you make this Scripture story your own.

To put yourself in the story, it may help to read this imaginative account:

A servant cautiously cracked the door open, raised a lamp, and peered out to see who was knocking so loudly. “It’s them!” he called over his shoulder, then quickly pulled the two disciples into the house where the Apostles were hiding.

Everyone started speaking at once.

“We saw Jesus!” Cleopas said excitedly.

“You saw him? So has Peter!”

“Where did you see him? What did he look like?”

“Tell us, Cleopas. What was he like?”

“Quiet!” said Peter, “Give them something to drink. They’ve come from Emmaus, that’s a long journey. Let them catch their breath.”

Cleopas sat down, took a drink of water, and then began. “You all know we left Jerusalem yesterday morning. I saw no reason to stay. Jesus was dead. He had died like a criminal. I couldn’t believe I had given up so much to follow him and then he died like that. I wasn’t going to hang around in hiding. On the way back to Emmaus we were talking about what had happened, what went wrong, what we could have done, should have done. It felt so lonely out there on the road, walking back to our old life. We were trying to figure it out, to make sense out of it. Attempting to comprehend what our own lives meant after this devastating loss of Jesus. We were getting nowhere.”

Cleopas paused and reflected quietly, then said, “We were getting nowhere until this man joined us on the way. There was something different about him. He was so full of joy. Peace flowed from him.”

“Was it Jesus?” James asked.

“We thought he was just a traveler,” Cleopas continued. “When we told him about Jesus’ death on Calvary, everything made sense to him. Where we saw roadblocks and problems, he explained to us the mysterious plan, the designs of God starting with Moses, David, and Isaiah and fulfilled now in Jesus. It gave me such a feeling of hope to think that what seemed like the end might just be one dark moment in a journey that the Lord has blessed—” Cleopas paused and the room was in complete silence for a moment.

“—we don’t really need to understand this on our own terms but on God’s,” Cleopas continued. “As the evening began to fall, we stopped and ate together. I realized how my heart was burning like…like…”

“Like the first time we met the Master,” Peter quietly broke in.

“Yes,” Cleopas agreed. “But the stranger gave himself away when he broke bread and gave it to us, just as Jesus had done at the supper we shared on the night he was arrested.”

Cleopas put his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Peter, I think everything is going to be alright. I think everything is just the way it is meant to be.”

“Look!” James exclaimed.

The room was bursting with radiant light and their hearts swelled with joy. A figure had appeared. He said, “Do not be afraid. Why do you doubt it is I?”

“Jesus!” Cleopas exclaimed.

“Look at my hands and my feet. It is me—risen—here—with you.”

3. As Cleopas walked away from Jerusalem in confusion and regret, his shattered expectations had become a wall between him and reality. Recall the times in your life when things didn’t work out as planned. Someone got hurt. Plans fell apart. Dreams were shattered through others’ mistakes or your own. A good question to ask yourself in these situations is, “Am I certain that this wall of fear and disappointment is the whole truth?”

Write down or recall a situation in your life that seemed bleak but that you were later able to see more clearly.

4. Quietly imagine yourself with the disciples and the stranger eating supper in Emmaus. Watch as Jesus quietly prays and then breaks the bread, handing it to you with the words, “This is my body. Take and eat.” Let the radiance emanating from the face of Jesus pour over you. Freeze the moment and soak in the warmth and light from around that table. …

This is taken from one of the meditations in Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments

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