March 30, 2016

Your Flight to Emmaus Is Now Boarding

It’s a long road to Emmaus. I walk it each and every day. Like the two disciples in today’s Gospel reading, I would love to run into Jesus during my travels. But I fear that as Celopas and his friend did, I won’t recognize Jesus.


I was thinking about the story of the Road to Emmaus as I traveled back to Austin from Florida at the end of spring break a couple of weeks ago. Did I encounter Jesus on the way home but did not realize it? Perhaps Jesus could have been any one of these strangers I ran into along the way:

  • The airline employee who though not particularly friendly, tagged our checked luggage efficiently.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent who randomly selected me to swab my hands for explosives.
  • The other TSA agent who said, “Come here, princess” to encourage my three-year-old daughter to walk through the metal detector by herself.
  • The airport store cashier who very slowly helped us purchase two very expensive bottles of juice for my daughters.
  • All the men in line for the next available toilet in the airport bathroom.
  • The airline agent at the gate next to ours who had to explain to his customers that their flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico was going to be delayed.
  • The flight attended who had a hard time demonstrating how to use the life preserver because the straps were tangled.
  • The strangers, presumably a husband and wife, sitting next to me on the plane who cuddled each other to sleep after the plane took off.
  • The flight attendant who gave my wife and daughters, seated across the aisle from me, a few extra bags of Doritos because my kids are addicted to them.
  • All the passengers who complained because the airline’s satellite TV system was malfunctioning.
  • The pilot who safely navigated us through a roller coaster of turbulence over Louisiana.
  • The snuggling passenger next to me who, upon waking up, rang the flight attendant button to ask for a bottle of water and a cup of coffee.
  • The flight attendant who forgot to bring that cup of coffee.
  • The woman who let me go ahead of her while exiting the plane because I was carrying my daughter.
  • The passenger at baggage claim whom I accidentally bumped with my backpack. I said sorry; he didn’t reply.
  • The long-term parking lot shuttle driver who cracked jokes and put a smile on the faces of many tired travelers.
  • The parking lot cashier who said nothing to me other than “$35.”

It fascinates me that anyone I run into on any given day could be Jesus. But it saddens me that I might not recognize him.
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. Luke 24:15-16
[For the rest of this story, please fly over to ATX Catholic.]

March 2, 2016

A Fast Food Lesson in Prayer

“If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.” This old adage from the restaurant industry is frequently attributed to managers at McDonald’s. The idea is that if you are a fast food employee and are not particularly busy at the moment, then instead of just sitting around – or leaning – grab a broom, mop or washcloth and start cleaning something. In a restaurant things can get dirty in a hurry so you constantly need to clean up.

"If there's time to lean, there's time to clean."

You can apply this to your spiritual life too. Unless you were born without original sin – and nobody reading this can make that claim unless your name is Jesus or Mary – then your sole constantly needs cleaning too. The phrase “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean” definitely applies. Or you may prefer this variation that I’ve been thinking about lately: “If there’s time to stray, there’s time to pray.”

A priest once told me in confession to think about prayer and sin on a scale.


His point was that if you pray more, you’ll sin less. I think my response was something along the lines of, “Wow, you’re right!”  Take a moment to ponder what your scale would look like.

Just think about all the times throughout the week when your mind strays. And it doesn’t just mean you’re straying from the Ten Commandments or having sinful thoughts. It may just be idle times when you aren’t thinking about anything in particular. Or maybe you should be thinking about your responsibilities like work or school but your mind keeps getting distracted. Why not fill at least some of those moments with prayer?

In some ways, prayer is similar to exercise. Unfortunately sometimes it can be far too easy to make excuses not to do either of those. You know that you’re supposed to exercise (and pray) regularly, but you just don’t have the time because your life is too busy. Or you don’t feel like exercising (or praying) because you’re just too tired. The excuses go on and on.

Snap out of it! If there’s time to stray, there’s time to pray. No matter how busy life seems to be, there is always time if you make an effort to find it. 

Think about all those mundane tasks during which you could get in some prayer time:

[To read the rest of this story, please click over to ATX Catholic.]

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