1 Thes. 4:13 offers a direct, clear and profound statement from St. Paul: he tells us all, “do not grieve like those who have no hope.” St. Paul does NOT tell us not to weep … he tells us not to grieve LIKE THOSE who have no hope. We do grieve and we will grieve again. We grieve at the death of a friend or family member …. we grieve at a lost opportunity or a missed chance ….we grieve during the aging process …
But, because of faith we need not grieve like those who have no faith, no hope. Our faith and our hope teach us that while we do lose — we also gain. We grieve the loss as we await the gain, the new life.
In today’s Gospel selection (Luke 24:35-48), Jesus walks up on the disciples who are on the road to Emmaus. As they discussed what had happened “on the way” and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread, Jesus asks them, “why are you troubled?” “Why do questions arise in your hearts?”
I ask the same questions, “why are you troubled?” “Why do questions arise in your heart?”
If we have no questions and no troubles, then truly we should be grateful! This is a good time in life. But, even for people of faith, troubles do come and questions do arise. Maybe not today, but at some point they have and they will.
It would be super if strong faith and active prayer and regular worship kept troubles and problems and questions away —– but, that is not the case. That is why the book, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” has become so popular. We WISH and sometimes almost convince ourself that if we try real hard and we pray real hard … no bad thing should come our way …. but that is not the case. Bad things do happen to good people; Troubles do befall faithful Christians. Questions come to the strongest believer.
Why? Why do we feel troubled sometimes? Why do we question?
Well, we are troubled when (1) we lose something dear or special to us … it is painful, it is disturbing, when a dear friend dies …when we lose a family member. When a job that has meant so much to us is lost … we grieve the loss, our soul and spirit — our sense of balance is disturbed.
(2) We are troubled when we fear something bad might fall on us. There does not even have to be a real loss …. even the possibility of a loss can disturb us and trouble us. We feel unrest with the chance that our balance may be disturbed or our well-being might be shaken.
(3) We are troubled when we feel things are beyond our control. When we have some control, we feel a little more peace within us. But, when we sense that someone or something else is in control and we might not like the outcome …. we are troubled, we are disturbed.
(4) We are troubled when we simply cannot understand what is happening around us. We like answers, we like to KNOW WHY something is going on. So, when no one can tell us what is happening or why something is happening, we are troubled.
OK. So, as with grief … St. Paul might tell us … do not be troubled like those without hope. He would not say … do not be troubled. We need feel no guilt — or that our faith is weak — because we get troubled. We have had troubled spirits and we will once again. But, like the disciples …. we look at the hands and feet of Jesus and we realize … ok, trouble is part of life, but there is something ahead of us and something more to happen. We resolved: I WILL NOT STAY TROUBLED. I may be troubled today, but not forever … Jesus will pull me through and forward.
Begin with the age-old wisdom of the Serenity Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Being TROUBLED about something of which we really have no control is not life-giving or helpful. Somehow at some point, we simply must say …. there is nothing I can do about this ….I find strength in myself and in my God.
Then, if we find ourselves being troubled by all these stories about the GSA wasting our money, the Secret Service Scandals in Colombia, which candidate for president will tax us the most, and other “talking-points” on tv …. if this constant noise is troubling your spirit, THEN TURN OFF THE TV … read a book, listen to some music, go for a walk, have dinner with a friend …. why LET SOMETHING ELSE disturb us …. enough is enough.
Find a space, a place, an activity that will engender peace within us. Choose peace! Do not stay in that space that robs us of peace and adds trouble.
It that which troubles us is within our control …. then, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and create the steps forward to address the troubling issue, the troubling situation, the troubling person.
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge over Troubled Water”?
When you’re weary ….Feeling small …. when tears are in your eyes …. I will dry them all.
I’m on your side …. when times get rough … and friends just can’t be found ….like a bridge over troubled water …. I will lay me down …. Like a bridge over trouble water …. I will lay me down.
When you are down and out … when you’re on the street …. when evening falls so hard … I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part when darkness comes ….and pain is all around … like a bridge over trouble water … I will lay me donw … Like a bridge over troubled water …. I will lay me down.
See how they shine …. If you need a friend …. I’m sailing right behind … like a bridge over troubled water … I will ease your mind … like a bridge over troubled water …. I will ease your mind.
JESUS IS THAT BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS … HE IS the strength to ease the trouble …. he is the way out of the trouble …
So, what is the trouble confronting you today? Name it so that you can tame it! Claim it so that you can control it!
Let us not be ignorant of what Easter is about: there is and there will be pain and suffering. We do not take the cross out of the Church! But, Jesus is the bridge from this side of life to the other side …. from the darkness to the light … from the pain to the new way.
Let us not be troubled like people who have no faith, who have no hope.