“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, April 7th“ Lk. 24: 13-35 “That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.”
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
1. GRACE. BEG FOR AN OVERFLOWING JOY! Why? The Lord Jesus is truly risen from the dead, Alleluia!
2. LET’S TAKE A WALK WITH JESUS!
Try now to imagine the scene. Let your contemplative mode kick into high-gear! It is afternoon on that first Easter Day. Two disciples of Jesus are taking a walk away from Jerusalem. What is their mood, you might ask. Well, in Ignatian terms: DESOLATION! Confusion, depression, disorientation, questioning, doubts, darkness, hopelessness, dreams crashed!!! There we have the state of affairs with these two forlorn individuals. One of these individuals is named Cleophas. The other has no name because that anonymous individual is YOU. Yes, you! You are called to be in this scene and on this journey.
3. WHERE ARE THEY GOING???
They are headed towards a small town or hamlet with the name EMMAUS. It is approximately eight miles distant from the city of Jerusalem. Apparently there is a small cottage there that they are heading towards. They are leaving Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified just a couple days earlier. They are in much turmoil and confusion about this event! As they walk and head towards their destination, they talk. It is not a conversation that is easy; rather, they seem to be debating and even arguing as they try to make sense about what happened to Jesus that Friday! They cannot seem to make heads or tails about this event and about Jesus whom they hoped would be their solution in life!
4. THE GOOD-NATURED STRANGER!
While in this state of desolation, as they walk, talk and argue, a stranger comes out of nowhere and walks with them. He engages them in conversation and asks them what they are talking about. He walks at their pace and is very interested in them – who they are, what they are saying, what they are feeling. They are surprised that he is the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about these events, about what happened to Jesus of Nazareth! As they open up their hearts and express their grief and sorrow, the stranger simply listens. The two are impressed by this stranger! He walks with them, listens very attentively, seems to really know them, care for them, and love them, even though this man is a complete stranger! Have you ever met a stranger like this in your life?
5. THE STRANGER SPEAKS!
After listening to the interior struggles of these two, it is the stranger’s turn! He opens his mouth and speaks about these happenings. He takes Scriptures that they have heard before and interprets them related to this “Jesus of Nazareth” – to all these events and what happened to him. They never heard anybody speak with such clarity on the topic of Jesus, especially related to His Passion, death and apparent Resurrection, for some actually claimed that he had come back to life! As this stranger talks, something is happening to the two disciples: their desolation is being transformed into consolation! It is as if a thick and dense cloud is being lifted from their minds and hearts, and they start to feel light and joyful! Life now has meaning again as their confusion dissipates and clarity enlightens their path. Why this change? For the simple reason that this good-natured and intelligent stranger has come to walk with them, listen to their grief, and talk to them in a kind, clear and meaningful way. Have you ever met a stranger like this? Would you like to meet a stranger like this? Would you like to ask this stranger about Jesus and then listen to his conversation and explanation of who Jesus is and what happened to him? This stranger loves you! He wants to walk with you and talk with you in your life, where you are at. He knows you, cares for you, and wants to listen to you always, in any place and at any time. You simply have to invite Him and He will come!
6 ARRIVAL AT EMMAUS AND THE STRANGER!
After this enlightening walk and conversation, the two disciples arrive at their destination – the town of Emmaus and their little house! However, their mood has been transformed; they have gone from desolation to consolation! His walk and talk, his gentle demeanor, his ability to listen and respond with great intelligence and insight, his overflowing kindness, in a word, his understanding, compassion and charity have moved them to the very depths of their being! So profound is the transformation in both of them that they do not want to separate from this stranger who has already become their good friend! As they arrive at their destination, the stranger walks on, as if he has an appointment somewhere further down the road. Nonetheless, they will try; they invite him to come into their humble little abode and stay with them. They earnestly long for his fellowship and friendship!
7. STAY WITH US, BECAUSE THE NIGHT IS APPROACHING…
These are the words they address to the stranger! The stranger responds almost as if he were waiting for – better yet – longing for this invitation! He accepts immediately! There is a deep message at this point for you and me and the whole world: FREEDOM AND INVITATION! Jesus, being the Son of God, has given us freedom to use, and not to abuse. He will not force, coerce or violate our freedom; rather, He respects it! God wants to be loved, but love cannot be forced, it has to be given with total freedom. Adam and Eve abused their freedom, and so did the fallen angels, by sinning against God instead of loving God! We too are free! To receive and return God’s love, or to reject God’s love by living in a state of sin.
And also INVITATION! Like in Emmaus, Jesus wants to be invited into your home. In other words, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and waiting for a response, waiting for you to listen, to hear, to open your heart and receive Him – better yet, to warmly welcome Him! The Book of Revelation insists upon this point: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Whoever opens the door, I will enter and dine with him and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20) Right now, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and He is waiting for your response. What will it be??
8. SITTING AT TABLE.
Now they sit down at table. The stranger (who is Jesus all the time, but they still do not recognize Him) carries out very important gestures that He actually did just three days earlier – on Holy Thursday night in the Cenacle or Upper Room. It centers around the one word BREAD! He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it! These four verbs: taking, blessing, breaking, and giving are key words in history and will be until the end of the world! These were the same words that Jesus said on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper and first Mass. That’s right! These are the words used over bread every time that Holy Mass is offered! Classical Catholic commentaries agree that Jesus was celebrating another Mass for these forlorn disciples – indeed, how good God truly is! Once again, it is time for us to renew our faith, our love and our fervent devotion for the most Holy Eucharist! With Saint Thomas we can say: “My Lord and my God!” Or if you like: “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!” Be present in awe and adoration at this place, this happening and great mystery of God’s Presence among us! Emmanuel means “God with us”.
9. EYES OPENED TO SEE AND RECOGNIZE HIM! Only now are the eyes of the disciples opened to recognize that this stranger is really not a stranger at all, but He is Jesus, their Lord, God, and Savior—the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE! How often, like these disciples have we been blinded from seeing and recognizing Jesus who is present always, but very clearly in the “Real Presence”, meaning the Eucharist??? Dogmatic Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium from Vatican Council II speaks about the various ways that God makes Himself present, especially in the context of the Liturgy, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! These are the specific ways. In the Word of God. In the people united in prayer (“Where two or more are gathered in my Name, there I am in their midst.” Mt. 18:20). Also, God is present in a very special way in the Gospel proclaimed. It is Jesus who is speaking to us through the Gospel, which means Good News! In the priest-minister, Jesus is present. The priest works and officiates as Alter Christus – indeed, as another Christ! Still more Jesus becomes truly and substantially present in the Consecration at Mass: “This is my Body… This is my Blood… Do this in memory of me.” Then the culminating moment happens when those who are well-disposed receive Jesus in Holy Communion and become thereby living and burning tabernacles of the Lord Most High!!! Afterwards, Jesus stays with us in the Tabernacle so that we can come to visit Him and be His friend!
10. HE DISAPPEARS, BUT STILL REMAINS!!! This seems to be paradoxical! How can Jesus leave and remain at the same time? A miracle indeed! In Jesus’ glorified Body, He disappears from their midst. Nonetheless, He stays with them in the Eucharistic species – in the consecrated Host. Jesus said: “Behold, I will be with you always even until the end of the world.” (Mt. 28:20) Now that their eyes are opened, their joy has no limits; it is overflowing in torrents! You would think they would be tired after walking eight long miles along a dusty path!!! Quite the contrary! They are renewed and energized. In a certain sense, they are reborn! All of this came about as a result of this stranger who came to walk with them, listen to them, talk with them, and encourage them. Then finally, sit down at the table and “break bread” for them! This stranger was really Jesus – the Risen Lord Jesus. This encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus has radically transformed their lives. They are completely convinced Jesus truly lives and they will give their lives totally to Him, making Him known throughout the whole world! And they will not wait! They hurry back right then to Jerusalem to recount the Good News of having met the Lord Jesus. As they recount the whole incident, it is apparent something has occurred in them for their hearts are burning within them, like a blazing fire! All of this is related to Jesus’ presence, His explaining the Word of God to them with great clarity, and finally His breaking bread for them.
Why not enter into dialogue with Jesus? Why not walk with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him and love Him. Also, why not go where there is “Breaking of Bread” and receive Him willingly into the depths of your heart, so that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, your heart will be set on fire – and you can set the whole world on fire for love of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
May this be our prayer: “STAY WITH US, LORD, because night is approaching.”