Jesus waits to meet you along the way

Sr. Rosann Ocken, OSB

Recently when I visited my oldest sister, her teenage grandson came into the kitchen sporting his new T-shirt. The letters were bold, white on black: “This isn’t the life I signed up for.”

I suppose the apostles and disciples may have thought the same when their lives took a sharp and unexpected turn. After all, they hoped Jesus would overthrow the Romans who occupied their country.  But instead, Jesus was crucified.  Jesus was dead.

Three days later, Cleopas and his two companions left the city with the tragedy of the crucifixion still heavy on their hearts. They released their burden to a stranger while on the way: “We were hoping that he was the one who would set Israel free.” The stranger listened as they relayed the perplexing events. “Besides all this, today, the third day since these things happened, some women of our group have just brought us some astonishing news. They failed to find his body, but returned with the tale that they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive.”

In the course of this dialogue, the stranger revealed himself to them in the two most powerful ways that God meets us: in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist.  The stranger first reminded them of the words of Scripture that the Messiah would undergo such suffering as a passage to glory. Their interest peaked; they invited him to stay with them for the night. While at table, he took the bread, blessed and broke it and began to distribute it to them. It was then that their eyes were opened. They recognized it was the risen Lord. (Lk. 24:13-35)

When our lives take unexpected and upsetting turns, Jesus, too, will meet us on our way. He will listen to the happenings, the struggles, the disappointments. Jesus will remind us of his final words to the disciples: “Know that I am with you always until the end of the world!” (Mt. 28:20)

And, just as Jesus revealed himself to his companions in the breaking of the bread, Jesus will reveal himself truly present to you in the Eucharist. It is there you will meet the Risen Jesus. The bread and the wine that we bring are our lives, our brokenness, our concerns, our hopes and joys. All are united in Christ and are transformed. Without a doubt, we are made new each time we surrender our lives to God on the altar as Jesus surrenders his in every Eucharist.

So, when life turns out to be not quite what you signed up for, or when you are feeling troubled or burdened, confused or dejected, it will be in the Scriptures and the Eucharist that your “eyes can be opened” and realize Jesus is truly risen! We can talk with him and listen to him. May these Easter days be an invitation to meet Jesus on the way in both Word and Sacrament.


Sr. Rosanne Ocken, OSB, is prioress of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, Nebraska. 

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