The vision of Emmaus Journey is to help Catholics grow in their understanding and commitment to sacred Scripture and Church teachings, and to fan into flame people’s commitment to prayer and evangelization. Emmaus Journey contributes to these goals by providing ministry and formation resources, and leadership training for parishes, small-groups, and individuals.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart

Hebrews 12:1-3 NAB

Rich Cleveland's picture

Don't Ignore the Signs

Seven of us were driving through Michigan, caravanning in two Accords, and we were about halfway into the first leg of a road trip from Colorado to Maine. As we passed through Lansing pursuing I-69 northeast to Port Huron and into Canada, I had a moment of dyslexia while busy talking with my son and his wife. As I circled north on the bypass I saw the exit to I-96 and proceeded happily on my way. It was some time later when the occupants of the other car called us on the cell phone asking if we were on the right road. As we pulled over to talk about it we realized that we were seeing Lake Michigan on the horizon, not Lake Huron and the entrance point into Canada. In blissful ignorance I had led us to pursue the wrong direction. I meant well, and enjoyed the journey but nevertheless ended up in a place other than where I wanted to be. All along the highway there were signs telling me we were on I-96, not on I-69, but I ignored them.

Jesus counsels in Matthew 6:31-33 "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." This passage is a clear call to turn aside and make sure that the direction we are pursuing in life is the one we intend. As babies we are born pretty content and pretty free from anxiety, but as we mature from childhood and become adults our contentment is often replaced by wants and desires which  have been shaped by our environment, our upbringing, and our natural inclinations. We develop desires, and focus on fulfilling those desires, and in varying degrees we allow anxiety to creep into out lives. In this passage Jesus points out that anxiety is like a road sign letting us know we are heading in the wrong direction. We ignore this warning sign to our own detriment.

Jesus does not say that things in life like food and clothing are totally unimportant, or that we are not to work and provide well for ourselves and our family. What he does say is that when we find ourselves becoming anxious about some of the things that we desire, it is an indication that our priorities are out of whack. He implies that though it might be natural for someone who is not a child of God to let these things become dominant in their life, for a child of God it isn't natural and should not be our focus. Rather the thing that makes us different is that we have a relationship with God the Father and with his Son Jesus, which should be comforting, assuring, and purpose-full to us.

Jesus challenges us to "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness." He advises us to not simply desire things like the Gentiles, but to "diligently pursue and inquire after" something different, i.e., God's kingdom and God's righteousness. Another way of saying it, is to strive to allow God's rule and reign in our life. God's kingdom, "thy will be done," provides the purpose and direction we need to refine and shape our desires so that they are not simply focused on the here and now, and the desires of the material world, but on spiritual reality and those things which are eternal. God's righteousness, as our desires are reshaped into his holy purposes, then becomes a little piece of heaven on earth as his wisdom, righteousness, and justice are manifest in and through us to others.

What a shame it is when a Christian awakens to realize that although he has been traveling along in blissful ignorance, and maybe even with good intentions, that he has ignored the clear signs and guidelines which God has provided through Holy Scripture and Holy Church, only to find that he wasted a good chunk of his life heading in the wrong direction. "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be yours as well."

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