By Gabe Hurrish
I often think I am like those two disciples walking away from Jerusalem wondering “what I will do?” after their savior and dreams died on that cross. Their expectations were burst by death. Their faith is shaken to the roots when their leader was killed. Am I like that? When I encounter the unexpected, do I lose hope? It is so easy to despair in those circumstances.
What strikes me is how Jesus comes to these two disciples as they are “…going down…” from Jerusalem. They are going away from their faith. In hopelessness, low faith and confusion, they walk away. Jesus catches up to them and walks with them in that stage of despair and engages them in order to help them “see”.
I often find that in times of terrible trial and tribulation this is when I feel closest to Jesus. I can sense His presence. Jesus comes to us in our darkest and most challenging times of our lives. As Peter reminds the Jewish people of his time, God has a plan and we need to trust that and move forward with courage. St. Peter implores us “to listen and to hear.”
Many times I identify with these two disciples. I have the Spirit of God in me, but I despair when things don’t go the way I expected. I lose courage and faith when the world seems overwhelmed by evil and selfish individuals. I lose faith when wars and famine and disease recur. I wonder where my God is? How can these things be allowed to happen?
As in the reading from First Peter, I try to “conduct myself with reverence during the time of my sojourning.” I can’t change everything, I can’t understand everything, yet I trust in the Lord who created everything and has arranged all to a divine plan. God allows hardships and adversity to exist so that his glory can be revealed.
I work in South Sudan, a country beset by despair and hopelessness. I have witnessed the distress that the Church of South Sudan is experiencing. This newest of nations is going through difficult growing pains. There are problems within problems. Politics is corrupt, education is lacking, good health care is practically non-existent, and infrastructure is deficient. On top of all this, violence and natural disaster plague the people. There seems to be no way out. What are we to do? Yet, Jesus is walking with the people. Through that divine image, I also walk with the people of South Sudan.
Today’s readings implore us to believe and trust in God’s ways. To have faith in that which we cannot see or understand. Despite much negative publicity, all is well and all is going according to Our Loving Lord’s plan. We have to continually assess if we are walking away or toward God. I pray for strength and courage to carry my crosses even when I don’t recognize how God is working through me. It is our life journey to listen to, and hear, what God is saying to us. We continue to move with Our Lord and carry on the conversation of eternal life.
Maryknoll Lay Missioner Gabe Hurrish, who has worked with relief, development and mission organizations for 30 years in 11 countries, joined the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2017.
Featured image: Maryknoll Lay Missioner Gabe Hurrish (center) engages with participants in a beekeeping workshop in 2020. (Courtesy of Gabe Hurrish and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners/South Sudan)