The human story is filled with broken dreams. Created in the image of God, we can fashion marvelous possibilities of success, fame and pleasure, and spend much of our time and effort trying to make at least some of these dreams come true. But we will always encounter along the way people or circumstances that will shatter those dreams.
Jesus was a person of promise. So much of what He said and did seemed to speak of peace and freedom and new creation. Then suddenly the bubble burst, the dream was nailed to a cross, and the one who had promised fullness of life was dead and buried. Many walked away disillusioned, among them many of his followers. But the Risen Lord returned to those who believed, to point out how the Scriptures clearly foretold that the Christ must first suffer before coming into his kingdom, and to reveal himself to them in the breaking of the bread. He restored their faith and made their dream live again.
This story echoes down the centuries to console those who have come to faith in Jesus. There are always moments when the dream fades and hopes are dimmed. Evil, suffering and death continue to burst the dreams of believers, and many are tempted to walk away from the Lord and from His church. But the Risen Savior continues to walk with us, to lead us back to the Scriptures for the answers, and to reveal Himself again to us in the breaking of the bread of the Bread of the Eucharist
To live the Gospel of Jesus means learning constantly how to let go, how to be willing to die to ourselves. Jesus "emptied himself...took the form of a slave… humbled himself... obediently accepting even death, death on a cross."
These Gospel values of dying to self, of letting go, of being humble and obedient are not very popular in today's culture. So much of what is communicated to us by the media preaches just the opposite: self satisfaction, defending one's rights, protecting one's investments and security. These values all sound fine on the face of things, but they tend to weaken and obscure the radical elements of the Christian Beatitudes: poverty of spirit, compassion, meekness, forgiveness, and peace making.
Again, we come face-to-face with the basic paradox that is at the heart of the Christian Gospel - death leading to life, darkness giving way to light, suffering as the road to glory. Unless and until we accept this fundamental condition, we will never be fully at peace. We will continue to worry and fret, to question God's will and His love, to resent the predominance of evil, to slip easily into moods of doubt and despair.
The Risen Lord is beside us and within us through all of these trials, reassuring us of the Father's concern and love, and giving us the inner faith and strength to endure and overcome. No trial or difficulty should wipe out our hope. No pain or suffering should diminish our spirit.
Others may grow weary on the journey - we cannot. Others may become bitter and disillusioned - we dare not. Others may place all of their hopes in the pleasures and promises of this world - we do not. Others may have no idea where their earthly journey leads - we do!
For us, the Cross of Christ is not the symbol of broken or defeated dreams; rather it is the eternal promise that whoever believes will have life in its fullness.