Managing our expectations…
Just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we too become frustrated and discouraged when reality doesn’t measure up to our expectations.
This simple truth holds for all things, big and small, as when an unforeseen traffic jam threatens to make us late for an appointment.
It certainly holds true for the big things in life. When major setbacks, misfortunes, or catastrophes occur, the aftermath can be devastating. In these very difficult moments, it is important not to allow any discouragement to ruin our peace of soul or seriously affect our conduct as Christ’s followers.
It is not uncommon for desperate actions, like thoughts of suicide, adultery, or apostasy to follow in the wake of a deep disappointment, when there is a fundamental clash between the reality of life and our expectations for life. It is necessary, therefore, to be on guard: always simple as doves but wise as serpents, as Jesus tells us.
Today Jesus wants to adjust our expectations. If we let him do that, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus did, it will be a major milestone in our spiritual lives.
Today’s Readings present us with 3 biblical metaphors for what human life in this fallen world really is.
The Psalm (Ps. 16:1-11) explains that God is faithful, that if we stay close to him, he will safely “show us the path to life, abounding joy in God’s presence, the delights at his right hand forever.”
The path to eternal life — that’s the metaphor for what this earthly adventure really is.
In the Second Reading (1 Peter 1:17-21), St Peter tells us to “conduct ourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning.”
A time of sojourning, of journeying. We are on our way home; we are pilgrims heading towards heaven, towards our Father’s house.
The Gospel passage (Luke 34:13-35) is a living parable for the same truth — Jesus walking with his disciples along the road to Emmaus.
This life on earth is just that — a pilgrimage, a journey, a path.
If we truly see life this way, as it truly is, we will expect what pilgrims expect: joys and adventures, Yes; but also hardship, danger, and suffering.
If we expect somehow to achieve perfect happiness with no hardships here and now — then we open the door to constant disappointment, frustration, and deep sadness.
The most practical application of this fundamental Christian truth has to do with how Christians react to tragedy and suffering.
If we know that life in this fallen world is meant to be a journey and a battle, we are can persevere through trials and tribulations that come our way and keep on going even though the valleys of darkness. Because Jesus walked the path of Calvary before us, we can follow in his footsteps with confidence, never losing hope.
We know that God can bring good even out of the greatest evils, just as he brought salvation and the Resurrection out of the horrible failure of the Crucifixion. As a result of this hope, we have strength to weather any storm that comes our way, because Christ gives us this strength. We don’t have to understand why God permits certain hardships and sufferings, when we already know that in the end he will never let us down.
The Christian prays, perseveres, and finds hope even amidst tears and terrible darkness, because he knows that Christ’s victory will be his, if he just keeps walking by his side.
Walking by his side is not complicated. It means three simple things.
- It means an ongoing effort to grow in prayer and sacramental life.
- It means an ongoing effort to understand and follow Church teaching, both about faith and about moral issues.
- And it means an ongoing effort to be like Christ in our own lives – in the excellence of our work, the dependability of our character, and the self-sacrificing faithfulness of our relationships.
To pray, to follow Church teaching, and to imitate Christ in our daily lives: this is how we walk close to Christ along that path of our pilgrimage, following his lead towards our eternal home.
Today, thank our Lord for the great gift of his friendship, place your trust firmly in him, and promise him you will never again try to walk through life alone.
[Adapted from ePriest.com]