March 30, 2012

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Lessons from the Savior during Lenten season and beyond

Debra Tomaselli“Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Most of us don’t have to endure the intensity of suffering that Jesus bore as he stood before the angry mob clamoring for his crucifixion.

But people can say and do things that make us feel beaten and imprisoned. In those instances, we have much to learn from our Savior.

Meek and humble, Jesus did not fight or resist the taunts. In fact, Pilate was so disturbed by Jesus’ submission that he pulled him aside and asked, “Don’t you know that I have the power to release you or to crucify you?” (Jn 19:10).

Jesus responded, “You would have no power at all over me unless it were given to you from above” (Jn 19:11).

Can you believe that?

Initially, I couldn’t relate to his statement. I would have argued and fought. But when a work situation arose that left me feeling betrayed and imprisoned, I suddenly understood his response.

It happened years ago when I took a job with an insurance agency. Although the position was part time, the terms of employment included a paid vacation.

However, months later, when I requested a day off, I was told that I didn’t get any paid vacation time. I wrinkled my nose and scratched my head.

But Nancy, the office manager, insisted.

“No,” she said. “You don’t get paid vacation time.”

Perplexed, I shrugged and left her office. That night, however, I searched at home until I found the original employment letter.

There it was, written in black and white. One week of paid vacation after six months and two weeks of paid vacation after one year of service.

I sighed with relief. I was right. Nancy must have forgotten.

I brought the document to the office the next morning, but when Nancy saw me coming with my paperwork in hand she waved me away.

“That was a mistake,” she growled, pointing toward my letter. ”You don’t get paid vacation time.”

“But …,” I waved the proof.

“That was a mistake,” she barked.

I didn’t argue. I didn’t fight. I would never sue, but I went home from work that day and cried. I couldn’t afford to take a day without pay. I felt imprisoned. Yet, I never questioned her ruling. I accepted it and trusted God to deliver peace.

Months later, something changed Nancy’s mind. One day when the computer network quit working, Nancy offered everyone the choice of a paid vacation day or unpaid time off. When I didn’t reply, she called me into her office.

“Why didn’t you respond?” she asked.

“You said I don’t get paid vacation,” I replied.

“Well, you do now,” she said.

My eyes widened in disbelief. My shoulders relaxed like a great burden had been released. I sighed.

“If it bothered you that much, why didn’t you say anything?” Nancy asked.

Humbly, I felt no need to answer. Instead, I remained silent.

Suddenly, I recalled Jesus’ response to Pilate on that fateful day. As I retreated from Nancy’s office, his words echoed from deep within. Christ’s reply was my unspoken answer.

“You would have no power at all over me unless it were given to you from above” (Jn 19:11).

I believe that. And a deep and abiding peace remains.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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