On October the 28th 1996, my wife and I welcomed our third child. We’d successfully managed our child rearing by each taking responsibility for either child. Now, with 3 children under 4, we were outnumbered. Family life felt chaotic, we were unable to let go our parenting expectations, and behaviours, we didn’t know what else to do and weren’t enjoying parenthood; despondent and depressed.
4 weeks in, during our evening ritual of connecting with each other for 10 minutes, we were gifted with the revelation that with the birth of our third, we were out of control .. not only of our parenting but … ‘out of control’. That recognition was strangely transformative. We resolved then to live out a deeper truth, let go the illusion of control and respond to our current familial chaos with acceptance, adaptability, resilience, and good humour. Many parents will resonate with this story, and I share it because it provides an imperfect window into today’s Gospel.
Here 2 of Jesus’s followers are walking to Emmaus – despondent and depressed. They had clear expectations of Jesus’ Messiahship. He was to be Israel’s spiritual, economic, and political liberator and they had behaved accordingly! Now all they knew was that he had been judicially murdered by the state and his dead body was missing.
Unrecognised, Jesus joins them and invites them to let go their expectations and consider deeper truths about Messiah embedded in Israel’s tradition. Namely, that Messiah liberates through self-giving – even through suffering to death.
After reaching Emmaus and joining them for their ritual evening meal he ‘took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him’.
As adults, we hold onto illusions of control, be they about God or life including parenting. However, we can ‘transform’ as we:
– ‘recognise the truth’ as a gift from the ‘other’ through ritual, be it from Christ through the Eucharist or, in my case, via the birth of our 3rd child and our 10 minutes of connection ritual,
– let go illusion and respond … with burning hearts or acceptance, adaptability, resilience, and good humour.
What rituals open us up to the transcendent? What illusions are we being invited to let go? How does this Gospel story invite us to respond?