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Pope: Let go of the disappointments of the past

Duccio di Buoninsegna Emaus

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/27/20

Francis notes how all of life is a journey, but we have to decide which direction to take, as the Emmaus disciples did.

Pope Francis is urging us to let go of the disappointments of the past, and instead to look at the “greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus lives.”

The pope said this before praying the midday Regina Caeli on Sunday, reflecting on how the Gospel account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is “a story which begins and ends on the move.”

There is the first journey — going away from Jerusalem, about 11 kilometers (almost 7 miles) — and this is a journey that is sad, despite being in daylight and mostly downhill.

Then there is the return to Jerusalem — another 11 kilometers, now at nightfall, much of it uphill, and carrying the fatigue of the first trek.

Two trips: one easy during the day, and the other tiring at night. Yet the first takes place in sadness, the second in joy. In the first there is the Lord walking beside them, but they don’t recognize Him; in the second they do not see Him anymore, but they feel Him near them. In the first they are discouraged and hopeless; in the second they run to bring the good news of the encounter with the Risen Jesus to the others.

The Holy Father said that these two journeys tell us that “in life we have two opposite directions in front of us: there is the path of those who, like those two at the beginning, let themselves be paralyzed by life’s disappointments and go ahead sadly; and there is the path of those who do not put themselves and their problems first, but Jesus who visits us, and the brothers who await His visit, that is, the brothers who are waiting for us to take care of them.”

Here is the turning point: to stop circling around oneself, the disappointments of the past, the unrealized ideals, the many bad things that have happened in our life. Very often we tend to keep going around and around… Set that aside and look at the greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus lives, Jesus loves me. This is the greatest reality. And I can do something for others. It is a beautiful reality: positive, bright, beautiful! The turning point is this: passing from thoughts about myself to the reality of my God …

Pope Francis played on the similarity of the two words “if” and “yes,” in Italian, to comment on how often we focus on the “if only,” … but how this line of thought “does not help us, it is not fruitful, it helps neither us nor others.”

The disciples did the same, but went from the “if only” to the “yes.”

“Yes, the Lord is alive, He walks with us. Yes, now, not tomorrow, we are on our way to announce it. … from laments to joy and peace, because when we complain, we are not joyful; we are in grayness, grayness, that grey air of sadness. And this does not help, nor does it enable growth. From “if” to “yes,” from the lament to the joy of service.

The pope said that this change of focus came about for the disciples because of one crucial thing: meeting Jesus.

The two disciples of Emmaus first open their hearts to Him; then they listen to Him explain the Scriptures; then they invite him home. These are three steps that we too can take in our homes: first, opening our hearts to Jesus, entrusting Him with the burdens, the hardships, the disappointments of life, entrusting the “ifs” to him, and then, the second step, listening to Jesus, taking the Gospel in hand, reading this passage today, in Chapter 24 of Luke’s Gospel; third, praying to Jesus, in the same words as those disciples: “Lord, ‘stay with us’ (v. 29). Lord, stay with me. Lord, stay with all of us, because we need You to find the way.” And without You there is night.Dear brothers and sisters in life we are always journeying. And we become what we go towards. Let us choose the way of God, not of the self; the way of “yes,” not the way of “if.”We will discover that there is no unexpected event, no uphill path, no night that cannot be faced with Jesus. May Our Lady, Mother of the journey, who by receiving the Word made her entire life a “yes” to God, show us the way.
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