Here we have the two disciples, troubled by the death of Jesus, who met and invited a stranger to break bread with them. Only after breaking bread do they recognize Christ and do the Biblical equivalent of slapping themselves on the forehead.
Now, what I want to know is how these disciples didn't recognize Jesus! You'd think He would've been a pretty noticeable guy.
But that's just it - we, the modern-day disciples, confused by the very real worries of daily life, are unable to see Christ, even though He's right here. So what's stopping us from opening our eyes, seeing Christ, and saying good-bye to doubt?
Trust in God. Or rather, the lack of trust! We often hear this phrase and it seems deceptively straightforward, but what does it really mean?
Let's go back to those disciples. They trusted neither Christ's own promise of resurrection nor the stories of the women who had just visited the empty tomb.
Only after they see Him at the end do they realize that despite their doubt, their "hearts burned within" them as He spoke to them!
Focus on that last part for a second - their hearts were telling them the truth, but they didn't listen! How often do we feel our hearts leading us somewhere, but ignore it because it isn't rational or because we just don't believe it? It's that very rationalization - that doubt - that causes us to be blind to the promises Christ offers.
God uses the desires of our hearts - in fact, He placed them within us - to call us to the places that will make us the most happy. We can develop trust through a combination of awareness in identifying our deep desires and the courage to act upon those "gut instincts" that we've identified.
These instincts guide us, even if we cannot logically make sense of our choice. If we first listen and then take action, we are embodying trust in God.
Then our lives will not be built upon an irrational, passive dependence upon God, but rather upon carefully discerned action that stems from a burning call deep within our hearts.
Simple? Hardly. So what are we to do when life throws us another curveball?
Here's where I slap myself on the forehead.
The answer is clear! Christ gave it to the disciples and it resolved their doubt, just as he offers us that same answer: the Eucharist. When Christ "took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them," the disciples finally recognized Him.
It was Christ in the Eucharist that released the disciples from their doubt and we're lucky enough to have that same opportunity. Combined with prayer and reflection, Christ gives us the courage to act upon our deepest desires.
The preparation for and reception of the Eucharist strengthens us even more. Through all of this, Christ can and will free us from doubt and enable us to live fully, with hearts on fire.
Carolyn Averill is a University of Wisconsin-Madison junior majoring in history and European studies. She serves St. Paul's as an undergraduate peer minister.
St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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