As Marci took her seat on the plane, she immediately began to speak to me. I was surprised, since having a conversation with a total stranger on a plane is not common in this generation that rarely turns off cell phones or iPads. Her nervous voice told me that all was not right. It didn’t take long before I found out that it was only the second time she flew, the first one being twenty-five years ago.
Marci was headed to Philadelphia for her sister’s funeral. The grief over her death, worries about a sick daughter, and fear of flying held her in bonds. As the plane landed in Chicago, she didn’t know where to go in the terminal or how to find her next flight. Having time before my next flight, I showed her the way. As we reached her gate, she said “goodbye” and expressed her gratitude. Marci’s story reminds us that traumatic events, fears, and anxieties can hold us in bondage. Frequently, it’s difficult to free ourselves from them, and we need others to release us from our bonds.
The story of Jesus freeing Lazarus can helps us. Jesus called him forth from the tomb and said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). At the same time, Jesus told those around him to unbind Lazarus from the burial cloths that kept him in bondage. Like Lazarus, we need Jesus to give us life and free us from our sins, but we also need others to help us overcome our insecurities, fears, and doubts - bonds that sometimes hold us fast.
We can do this in the simplest ways, like I did for Marci on the plane. I listened to her and helped her find her way to the next plane. We can help free people every day, if we reach out to them when they are in emotional, physical, or spiritual bondage.
Remembering Marci on the plane, let us ask ourselves: 1) What persons, attitudes, or events keep us in bondage? 2) How can we free ourselves from them? 3) How can we help loosen the bonds of a neighbor, friend, or family member?
Order Fr. Hater’s latest book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.