I went for a run yesterday. I am currently in the midst of a little competition with a colleague at the parish so that we can both get rid of the "dad-bods" we have grown over the last year or so. As a result, I have gotten back into running over the last few weeks and I have been eating better. It's amazing how dads gain baby weight. It must be because we are so emotionally and physically in touch with our wives. Somehow my wife looses all of her baby weight after labor and delivery, while I am stuck with "a big tummy" as my three-year-old likes to say. (Is your ego too big? Live with a three year old.)
When I exercise I enjoy listening to music, or some favorite podcasts. Toby Mac's latest album is become a favorite of mine while exercising. In case you are wondering, I generally listen back to the latest episode The Catholic SIP during one of my workouts each week just to analyze the show and see how we can improve. I even laugh along with us. Which is weird, because I already know the punch lines.
During my run yesterday, I decided to listen to the latest episode of the Word on Fire Show with Bishop Robert Barron and Brandon Vogt. This particular episode contained the full keynote talk Bishop Barron gave on the Eucharist from the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines. I highly recommend that you listen to the full talk. It will give you a new understanding for the Eucharist.
During the talk, Bishop Barron referenced the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus:
"Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred." (Luke 24:13-14).
What's interesting is that Bishop Barron points out that the disciples were walking AWAY from Jerusalem. (Which honestly, I never paid attention to this fact.) Keep in mind, Jerusalem is where all the action has taken place - the last supper, the crucifixion, the resurrection and eventually the sending of the Spirit. Bishop Barron explains that, "everything in the Gospel of Luke moves TOWARD Jerusalem." So in essence, these two disciples are going the wrong way. And it is in this WRONG direction that they can't recognize Jesus walking right next to them, even as they recount all that had happened to him.
So you may be wondering what any of this has to do with my run. I should point out that as I am listening to this, I am on the outward leg of my four mile journey. I am heading away from my house to a local park. On this particular day, it is cold and windy, but the sun and wind are to my back. If you run, you know this is a pretty good feeling. As I was reflecting on the words of Bishop Barron, I came to realize that I was on my own Emmaus journey. Heading the opposite direction of home (the wrong way) was easy. How many times have I been heading the wrong way in life and wanted to stay there because it was easy? How many times have I been unable to recognize Christ's presence in my life because I was moving away from the action, even if he was right by my side?
As I made my loop around the local park and started to return toward the direction of my house, the sun (the light) was in my eyes and the wind was in my face. I'm not going to lie. It was difficult. It would have been much easier to turn around and go the other direction, however I never would have reached my final destination. I knew if I could make it home I would see my wife, my kids and a hot shower was in my future. (It's during this moment that I started to sing Eye of the Tiger in my head. I thought I looked epic. I probably looked like a hot mess.) It seemed at times the wind was so strong that I wasn't even moving forward. I kept trying, because I knew it would be worth it in the end.
You'll be happy to know I finally did make it home, but it was the hardest 1.5 miles of my run. As I walked in my warm house I pictured Jesus preaching the Beatitudes,
"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven." (Matthew 5: 11-12)
The road home isn't always going to be the easiest route to take, but the reward that He promises us will be worth every step.