Bread line, Lent 1 short

bread-spain-bw

Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

Our hearts were burning within us

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In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the road to Emmaus. In this story, two disciples, leave Jerusalem full of disappointment over Jesus’ death. They encounter a stranger, who turns out to be… well either you know, or you don’t, and if you don’t this would be a spoiler. Go ahead, read the passage, it is right here.  This may be familiar, but let me tell you, every year I hear about the road to Emmaus, or read it, I feel such excitement. Sort of like my heart burning within me, but in a good way, not an antacid way!

This story always reminds me of the many ways and times that I have unexpectedly encountered Jesus. No, regrettably I do not always realize that it is Jesus I am speaking with, but somehow my heart starts to burn within. And this has happened with every sort of person, which gratefully, IMHO anyway, is a gift. Jesus has the potential to be in all of us, especially in the most unlikely places.

What are some of your “Emmaus” moments, when your heart was burning within you and then you realized that you had just spent time with Jesus? I hope that some of you will take the time to share your experiences in the comments.

One place where I have trod that road to Emmaus, has been graduate school. During the summer of 2008, I began a conversation with Katherine Hanley, CSJ, PhD, known to most of us as Sister Kitty, about studying at the Albany extension of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. A few short weeks later, I walked into my first class, and my heart has been burning within me ever since. Tonight I will walk into the final session of my last class, heart burning, of course!

Burning hearts aside, it should not be a surprise that I love this Gospel, especially if you read the last line.

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

There will be bread, and in this way, we come to know Christ, always.

Please share your own Emmaus moments in the comments!