When I first came up with the name of this blog, “The Road to Emmaus,” for the most part I just wanted something that sounded cool. Sure, I knew the story of the two disciples who were despairing because Christ had been crucified. I knew that they did not recognize him until he went all Last Supper on them at dinner, and then vanished in front of their eyes. I simply thought to myself, “I’m a disciple of Christ. I’m not in heaven yet, so I still have work to do. I need to keep walking, and hopefully I will notice Jesus, just like those disciples did.” The title sounded catchy, and it was slightly ambiguous unless you knew your scripture. And that was the extent of why I chose it.
But God works in funny ways (just look at the platypus – can you say, “last one picked in gym class”?). As I’ve continued to walk this road with Christ throughout the years, and particularly since I started this blog, I’ve noticed that I’m more like those two disciples than I first realized.
We have a little more than three more weeks left in the season of Lent before we enter into the fullness of glory that is the Easter season. Three more weeks before the Church calls attention to the fact that Christ has smacked sin and death around like the two little immature bullies that they are. But day in and day out, do we personally recognize it? Or are we blind, just like those two disciples along the road to Emmaus? Do we not notice Christ walking alongside us every step of our lives?
Lent this year has been particularly difficult. Whether it’s because I have regressed in virtue since last year, or because I am pushing myself harder this year, I am not sure yet. Even though I have tried to strip away all the pointless things in my life and have tried to make more room for prayer, I’ve stumbled more times than in years past. But as my friend said the other day, “Failing allows us to see God’s grace.” And she’s right. God has very quickly put me in my place. More than ever, I see that I am in need of His grace, and that without it, everything – everything – is moot.
It happened most powerfully this past Sunday, when I was a Eucharistic minister at my parish. As I consumed the Eucharist, and then as I held up the Eucharist in front of people and said “The Body of Christ,” I was hit, for the very first time in my life, with the same realization and awe that probably hit those Emmaus disciples at dinner with Christ:
“Oh, my God. I am so unworthy.”
It was like scales had fallen from my eyes. Me. Giving people the Body of Christ. Giving people the body of Christ! Who am I to do that? I’m not a priest, and I’m definitely not a saint. And yet there I was, chosen to give people the intimacy with their God that they longed for.
It was in this moment that I realized that I have such a long way to go to perfection, to paradise, and to a truly right relationship with God. It was not a realization of despair, however. It was a realization that humbled me a great deal, knowing that the all-powerful creator of the universe had decided to pour out His graces upon me, to give me strength, courage, faith, hope, and love, every single day of my life. I was so shocked by this seemingly simple fact of life; I nearly forgot what I was doing.
I am so small, and so unworthy of what God has done for me. We are all unworthy. And yet somehow, some way, God has made it right with us. I’m beginning to understand what the saints said – that the closer you get to God, the more you realize how far away you are from Him. He shows you as you truly are without Him, and then shows you how you can become an amazing being with Him.
Last three weeks of Lent. Let’s go big or go home.