“God will walk with us always, always, even in the most painful moments, even in the worst moments, even in moments of defeat. That is where the Lord is. And this is our hope.”
As my children get older and I now see high school as an imminent reality versus a far-off horizon, I am constantly bombarded by a disturbing truth – the stakes get higher and at the same time I have less control. Whether it’s decisions about clothes or relationships, conflict resolution or important preparation, I can try to impart wisdom but as they get older, authority with my girls becomes a little less impactful as a tool of domestic leadership. I was sharing this realization with several colleagues over a meal this past week as our whole team at Catholic Leadership Institute was gathered in person for some annual days of relationship building, training, and prayer. During our retreat, the Gospel of the Road to Emmaus was a foundational passage for us, not only because it falls during the Octave of Easter, but also because from our earliest days as a ministry it has been symbolic of who we try to be and how we try to serve the Church. As we shared our reflections on the passage, we shared the familiar themes of the importance of accompaniment, of being "prevented from recognizing" Jesus in our own lives, and of considering ourselves as the unnamed disciple in the story. However, for the first time in 17 years of reflecting on this passage, I heard an insight that I had never heard before. Jesus joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and He walked with them in the wrong direction.
As my colleague offered that insight, I instantly thought about some of the minor debates I was beginning to have with my older girls, not to mention some of the major ones I have had with others in my life and leadership. I couldn’t help but wonder, am I willing to walk with someone in the wrong direction? No matter how sure I am of where they need to go, will I expend the extra effort, sometimes what I might consider wasted effort, to not only meet them where they are, but to walk with them down a path that isn’t headed in the right direction? We know from the story that Jesus uses that time to teach, to challenge, and to build trust and relationship. Ultimately that journey moves the disciples to invite Him to stay with them, allows them to recognize the truth of who Jesus is, and consequently what they must do, namely to turn around and head back in the right direction. Whether with my girls or my friends or my colleagues or clients, do I stop walking when I believe they head in the wrong direction? Can I hold the tension of letting them know that I love them while also letting them know the truth? As we come off of Divine Mercy Sunday, let us continue to invite the Risen Lord to give us the courage to speak truth in great love and to help all of us recognize Him especially when we are headed in the wrong direction.