by Fr. Tom Hurley
Sunday, May 14, 2017
We often joke in Chicago that there’s basically two seasons of the year, Winter and Road Construction! And neither is a welcomed guest. Both seem to linger around too long and often make our lives hectic, as they press on our nerves and heighten our frustration levels. Although many of us usually appreciate the beauty of the snow as it comes down, I haven’t heard of anyone who has ever uttered a word of appreciation for road construction. “Gee, isn’t this back up in traffic fun?” No! It’s something else that quite honestly can’t be written in a church publication! Isn’t it true that when driving our cars around this big metropolitan area and we come upon those awful orange signs which unpleasantly announce, “Road Construction Ahead” or the new one that really gets under our skin, “Expect Delays”, one of our first reactions might be, “What now? What could they possibly be doing on this roadway? Didn’t they just fix it last year?”
Despite the inconvenience the dreaded construction season brings to our lives, the truth of the matter is this, we need the roads. In order to get from point A to point B, we need a pathway. It’s that simple.
Some of us who grew up in Chicago remember many years ago the famous “S” curve, located around what is present day Randolph and Lake Shore Drive. Driving north on LSD, I remember being in the car with my parents and how each driver had to literally come to almost a complete stop in order to make the very careful 90 degree turns, a required maneuver on The Drive. Thanks be to God to those who straightened out the road for us, making it less dangerous and more easily passable.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled!” I imagine many of us could recite this passage from John’s gospel by heart because we hear it proclaimed so often at Catholic funeral masses. It’s a powerful text and the part of it which intrigues me is Thomas’s reaction, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going? How can we know the way?” You can almost hear the frustration in Thomas’s voice, I’m lost. I don’t know how to get there. There seems to be a lot of detours. My road in life is terribly congested, torn up, broken, and in need of great repair. I’m confused with the path I’m on. I often times feel lost. The signs are not clear and most days I feel like I’m driving my life down a road that leads to nowhere.
We often speak about “spinning our wheels” (as if stuck on the ice!) and we’re driving in circles.
Two reactions to the Thomas frustration. First, in Jesus’s response to him (and to the group of disciples gathered in the Upper Room), he says, “ I AM the Way.” I think a lot of times we feel that if we just make a few quick adjustments or re-construct our pathways, our calendars, and our habits, we’re all good to go. Any many times, those minor adjustments are good, healthy and helpful. And we should make adjustments when necessary in our behaviors. But notice what Jesus says to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” What Jesus offers is not a map but a person. He offers Himself. His path will lead to life, hope, and love. This is the invitation of the Risen Christ. We can travel the road more confidently with the One who is the Way.
Second, I so appreciate the energy, spirit, and the clarity of the Pope these days. I love Francis and I think he hits one home run after another. Among the many pieces of wisdom he shared that is being quoted often is, “Build Bridges.”
Bridges help us connect. They make it easier for us to get from one side to another. As we find ourselves on the path of life, remember the constant invitation of the Risen One, Come to me. Take my hand. Cross the bridge. The prayer after communion in today’s liturgy says it so beautifully, “Graciously be present to your people, we pray, O Lord, and lead those you have filled with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life.”
May the Risen Christ lead us on our journey. May Jesus our Brother be the Way that leads us in this often confusing crazy life we live. In our conversations, among prayer groups, contemplating scripture, during the rush hour commutes, may we help each other find the bridges that will show us the way to Hope.
A blessed Sunday to all and a Happy Mother’s Day to all the great Holy women of our lives.
Father Tom Hurley