I spent some time this past week back at Little Flower High School with the Class of 2018. It was not for their fifth year reunion but for a more somber gathering. The bestowal of a class ring to the family of a student who died during the Easter Break of her Freshman year. The bestowal of the ring is significant but most especially for a member of the Class of 2018.
I continually used a circle when I would meet with the class. Multiply twenty by eighteen and you get three hundred sixty – the degrees of a circle. Therefore, I measured certain significant events of their high school experience as progressions along a circle. Shea’s passing in April of freshman year was about the seventy-fifth degree of that circle. Other milestones such as retreats, dances, sporting events, musicals, liturgies were so marked along the circle. Their Baccalaureate completed the progression at degree three hundred sixty.
Circles. Our lives tend to circle. We get the opportunity not to relive past events but to revisit them. We recall them with fondness or maybe trepidation. The familiarity can lead to comfort or chills. The memories can add clarity or enhance their cloudiness.
I am privileged to circle to OLP. My initial visits here predated my birth. My family worshiped here during the sultry summer of ‘61. The church that now forms me pastorally once formed me physically and spiritually. Circles.
The disciples in today’s Gospel story of the Road to Emmaus never envisioned circling back to Jerusalem, especially at night. Yet while “conversing and debating” as they went along the way they encountered Jesus who invited them into his circle of grace.
Jesus circled them back, emotionally, to the events of the Passion which they had just walked away from. After sharing that experience they were circled into the passages of Sacred Scripture with Jesus as their guide. Yet, they still needed to experience one more circle.
When they sat together at table and shared a meal they finally traversed that three hundred sixtieth degree. When Jesus broke the bread in front of their unseeing eyes, as he did with them on the night before he died, they were finally able to see and to understand. Circles.
The musical, Carousel (talk about circles) debuted nearly eighty years ago this week. Carousel, of all the musicals he helped to produce, was the personal favorite of Richard Rodgers. Carousel was also named by Time Magazine as the Best Musical of the twentieth century. Musicals usually feature a reprise, a particular song that bridges one act to another and ties-up a plot’s loose strings. For Carousel the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” serves that purpose.
We, like the Emmaus disciples, never walk alone. We are accompanied by so many loving individuals, and so many individuals who require our love, along the degrees of our circular journey. More importantly are those who travel the concentricity of our circle. It is indeed the Communion of Saints, our Guardian Angels, the Blessed Mother, and our loving Savior who guarantee that we will never walk alone.