It was Christmas Day, and after three Masses on Christmas Eve & one on Christmas Day I was ready to go home and see my family (about 50 minutes away) near Delphos. My car’s gas gauge told me I could drive more than 60 miles before my tank would be empty, so I made my way home with little thought.
Then when I left to come back to Defiance that evening, the miles until my tank would be empty seemed to tick off much too quickly. I realized I needed to get gas to make it back to town. I stopped on my way back in Ottoville hoping to get gas at the station there, but being Christmas Day the station was closed and the pumps were off. So I continued my drive, driving a little slower to conserve gas and even asked Siri where the nearest gas stations were; they were in little “burgs” so I figured they were closed as well.
I finally realized that at some point I would need to stop at a nice-looking farmhouse and ask for some gas. I kept watching for houses with lights on and multiple vehicles as I more anxiously watched the miles tick further and further down on my gauge. I kept putting off stopping, but I was getting close to empty and I was getting pretty anxious.
Mary Magdalene and the apostles were more than anxious after Jesus died. With all they experienced in their time of following him they couldn’t imagine life without him. They didn’t know how their lives would play out and couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing him again.
Mary Madalene wasted little time, though, and came to the tomb early the next morning, finding it empty. And in her great anxiety she ran to tell Peter and John.
My anxiety grew as I continued on my drive and had less than 10 miles to go before empty (my cell phone also had less than a 10% charge). I finally picked a house to stop at, realizing that if I didn’t stop I wasn’t going to make it. There was no more putting it off.
The house was inviting and near the road, with multiple cars and lights on. I anxiously rang the doorbell and it was actually a friendly parishioner who answered (I had no idea they lived there)! I was welcomed in, even given some cake to eat, along with a few gallons of gas and good company and I was back on my way. The empty tank was no more, I’d found what I needed.
When Peter and John came to the tomb they found it empty as well. But they put pieces together and realized that Jesus had risen from the dead as he had prophesied. New life, hope had come out of death, anxiety, and emptiness.
There’s an emptiness we all feel at least from time to time. Too often we might try to ignore it and keep going (I usually like to keep driving my car until my tank is almost empty), trying to fill the void with other things in our lives.
This emptiness though can only be filled by Jesus and the hope and freedom we find in his death and resurrection; only filled by drawing nearer to him in relationship through prayer, the sacraments, the Scriptures, and fellowship and communion with our brothers and sisters in the Church.
Jesus invites us to come to him not only when our tank is almost empty, but every day, and invites us to give, to surrender our lives to him. He walks with us in the good and bad, the joys and sufferings, inviting us to follow him daily in peace and freedom toward our eternal destination.
And each Sunday as we gather here at Mass, he gives us his very self, body, blood, soul and divinity, to fuel us to get us where we need to be in this life and the next.