A decade or so after his death a perception arose that George Washington was a perfect man: that he did not lie or sin. Throughout the 19th Century it was taught in public schools and held in the public square that the first president was infallible. Even Abraham Lincoln defended the belief, saying about Washington: "It makes human nature better to believe that one human being [Washington] was perfect, that human perfection is possible."
There are two stories from the ancient world I would like to compare. The first is that of Alcibiades, a figure from a war fought between Athens and Sparta in the 400s BC known as the Peloponnesian War. A brilliant Athenian statesman and general, Alcibiades brought great success to Athens in the early part of the war. While away on a naval campaign, however, he was accused by his political opponents of treason. Placed under arrest by subordinates, he managed to escape, jumping ship (literally and figuratively).
Someone asked me recently how he could not be sure he was not currently living in Purgatory. (I think he was a White Sox fan.) The lament made me think, upon later reflection, of the classic piece of medieval literature, The Divine Comedy. (Pope Francis, by the way, has encouraged Catholics to read this during the year.)
The Road to Emmaus was filled with trickery, bravery, blood, and victory. No, I am not talking about that Road to Emmaus. I am talking about the encounter of Judas Maccabeus and the Gentile army from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Maccabees 3-4). It occurred about 175 years prior to the risen Christ meeting the two disciples on the same road (cf. Luke 24:13-25).