Monday, April 12, 2010

Passing By

What does the Gospel mean when it says, describing the Risen Lord’s appearance at Emmaus: "He made as if to go on further; but they pressed Him"? It means that our Lord passes us by each day in every opportunity to do good. If we neglect the opportunity, He does not reveal Himself. When the false Christ comes, he will say: "I am Christ." But not so with the Divine Christ. He seems to walk by us, trying our dim eyes and weak hands to see if we have faith enough to want Him. He leaves us in darkness if we ask not for the Light. Never does he act independently of our desires for intimate union with Him. He breaks down no doors; the latch is on our side. He stands without the door and knocks... ¶ He has "no place to lay His Head" unless a friendly soul, like the friends at Bethany, give lodging. The inn keeper at Bethlehem missed the opportunity of forever saying of his inn: "Jesus was born here." "I was a stranger and you took me in," He will say on the Last Day, but He will be only a stranger to those who did not press the invitation... ¶ This same principle of hiding until sought after is evident throughout His life. At Jericho there was a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus who kept crying out: "Jesus, thou Son of David, have pity on me." The Lord pretended to pass him by, but despite the rebuke of others in the crowd the blind man cried out more loudly and was cured... ¶ So it was with the woman who came from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon and pleaded that He cure her ailing daughter, who was troubled by an evil spirit. He gave her no word in answer; His disciples came to Him and pleaded with Him: "Rid us of her," they said. But after further testing her faith, He answered her: "Woman, for this great faith of thine, let thy will be granted." And from that hour, her daughter was cured... ¶ Every word that comes to us about the uncomfortable, the homeless, the lepers, is the Son of God passing by. If we let Him pass, He may never be recalled. Graces unused are not often repeated; whispers ignored do not become shouts. All through life, our hands will stretch forth empty of the richest blessings of wisdom and truth unless they are first used to clutch at the sleeve of the Divine Who "makes as if He would pass us by." Emotional responsiveness without practical issue harms the soul. The drama stirs the emotions, but awakens no duties toward the afflicted on the stage. For the moment we may feel we are on the side of the angels. But that is what the Romans called ignis fatuus - the empty fire - the pleasurable glow that consumes no evil and illumines no path.
- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

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