|Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio|
We all know people who just seem more fully alive--people who encourage us to become a better version of ourselves. If we have had the eyes to notice them, we have also met people who understand the real meaning of life; they make others feel more valuable, more worthwhile, and more loved.
Yes, we all know people who just seem to have something more about them. But what is it? Do they know how to live in the present moment? Have they mastered the apprenticeship of putting others before themselves? Have they purified not only their actions but also their intentions? Perhaps they are marked by a special kindness or gentleness, a distinctive joyfulness or generosity. Perhaps they practice a patience or perseverance that seems otherworldly.
My wager is that the people who we most admire are walking revelations of the "resurrected life" which Christ offers to each of us, each and every day. My guess is that our heroes in the faith have already started to let the living Word of God transform their daily lives. Here and now, the Risen Lord is waiting to give us a share in the glorified reality for which we were created, and many people begin to tap into this fullness in the everyday details of their lives. St. Therese of Lisieux was able to boldly predict that she would "spend her heaven doing good on earth" precisely because she was already spending her earth doing the good of heaven.
In the forty days following his Resurrection, Christ repeatedly surprised his disciples and opened their eyes to a new fullness of Life. In John 21:1-14, the Risen Lord called the disciples with a powerful sign and word ("Cast your net over the right side of the boat...Come, have breakfast"), and then he fed them sacramentally ("Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them"). Christ wants us to realize that all of our daily encounters can now be marked by his living Presence. In Luke 24:13-35, the Lord met his disciples on the road and "interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures"; then "while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them."
This is what it means to live the Resurrection: We open ourselves to his Presence, in order to let Christ transform the often confused and cluttered corners of our heart. We commit ourselves to his Word and Sacraments, in order that we might carry Christ's Light into our often weary world. We create pockets of silence in our hectic lives, in order to listen for our personal prompting from the Risen Lord.
When we truly open our hearts and minds and ears and eyes, we can realize Who is really living in and through all those people who have inspired us on our faith journey. In this dawning realization, we can find ourselves repeating the words of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way...?” (Lk 24:32). And, when we meet those Christian "game changers" in our lives, we can find ourselves proclaiming along with the beloved disciple, "It is the Lord" (Jn 21:7)!
Pax et bonum,
P.S. During this Easter season, perhaps it is time to refocus our prayer on the conversion of all those who are drawn toward the evil of terrorism. Whether they are international or domestic terrorists, religious fundamentalists or anarchists, let's pray for the conversion of all those who think that the killing of innocent people is ever a viable option. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.