In the Gospel for this Sunday, we encounter the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It provides a lesson for us, one that is especially helpful in these times. The lesson is this: God works in a way that we cannot always see. Only later — when we look back — do we recognize what he has been doing.
Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They could not understand the events of the crucifixion as anything but a tragedy. They didn’t know what to make of it. They didn’t even recognize Jesus when he was walking on the road beside them. Only later, after the “breaking of the bread” with Jesus, did they recognize him. Only then did Jesus’s words make sense. They then said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us?” (Lk 24:31-2).
This happened to all the disciples. Think of Peter, who was completely befuddled when Jesus stooped to wash his feet. Jesus said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later” (Jn 13:7).
In such cases throughout the Scripture, the same principle is at work: God’s plan and presence is not always clear until later.
As for the disciples, so for us. For reasons that are too deep to fully understand, God’s plan for our lives is not always clear.
This time of pandemic is such a moment. It is hard to see what God’s plan is in the midst of these trials. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we may be discouraged and perplexed, we may be anxious and fearful, because we do not understand why he is allowing this. We do not see how a global pandemic could fit into the plans of a good and gracious Lord.
But one thing we do know: God is active in our lives, and he is even now walking next to us. We are not alone.
Of course, we’re still left with question of what to do when we are unable to see the point of God’s plan?
The answer is that we only need to focus on the next step — just the next step. And this kind of guidance, the step-by-step guidance, the Lord always provides. We can know the next step through our understanding of what is good, right and just, and what our Catholic faith has taught us about loving and serving others. We take the next step by keeping his commandments, and by acting faithfully to our commitments as Catholics and as Knights. We gain light from prayer, from reading the Word of God, from the voices of others whom we love and trust, perhaps even through signs and wonders. Whatever tools he uses, the Lord will guide us, one step at a time.
We know that this step-by-step road will end well, because we follow the God of the Universe. He has things in hand. He knows what he is doing. And he is good. We know the depths of the Lord’s love for us from what it cost him to save us. And so, counting on his goodness, we follow and obey, one step at a time.
So while we may see only one or two steps ahead, we will not be shaken. Let’s keep our hearts full of courage, and let’s not allow our stride to slacken. His presence may not be clearly visible in the news, in the halls of global power, in the hospitals, or even in our homes. But he is present. He is acting. He is working. He is calling. And we will follow.
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