Sunday, April 05, 2009

Avoiding God's Gaze

During Lent, and especially during Holy Week, Atticus and I frequently recall the gifts and graces that led to our conversions as we examine the ongoing conversion that is known as "life." This post is from last year:

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus
~~ Luke 24:13

A year or two before Atticus came into the Church, I was at Mass one Sunday and heard this Gospel reading. I stayed after to pray that day, and I poured my hurting heart out to God:

"When will he be open, Lord? When?"

I prayed a bit more, and cried a little bit, then sat and tried to listen. What happened next was not something I heard, but something I saw and felt inside:

And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. ~~ Lk 24:15-16

I had an image of Atticus ... Jesus was holding onto him, His hands on Atticus' shoulders, trying to catch his eye. Atticus looked away: right, left, anywhere but straight ahead, into the Eyes of Jesus. He was avoiding God's gaze. I knew that trick; I had done it myself.

And then I knew the answer to "when."

It was only a matter of time.

Jesus was that close to my husband. And it was only a matter of time before Atticus stopped looking away, could no longer avoid Him, would look up and gaze straight ahead, into the eyes he would recognize as those of his Lord. Their eyes would lock, and that would be it.

My tension slipped away. It might be months. It might be years. But Jesus had His hands on Atticus. I knew it in my heart and in my gut.

Sometime after that, I don't really remember the exact timing, Atticus did indeed surrender and looked straight into the eyes of God.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him
~~ Luke 24:30-31

When Atticus received his first Holy Communion, he recognized his life and God's claim on it in a new way. I remember marveling at all that he felt and sensed that Easter Vigil night, at all that we discussed. He knew what he was leaving behind and he knew -- as much as any of us can "know" -- what he was gaining.

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
~~ Luke 24:35

We recount what has taken place, and how He was made known to us in the breaking of the bread.

And our marveling continues.

(Painting: Christ on the Road to Emmaus, Roelant Roghman, 17th c.)


Sarah N. said...

Beautiful post and very timely for me today!

Willa said...

Timely for me, too.

Liz said...

Timely for me as well. It's been a rough year here.