It happens often to many different persons. Only God knows how many times. Ask your priest, even your bishop; they will tell you. Or is there a couple that you admire, as happy and settled? Talk to them and soon you will realise their life journey hasn’t been that rosy as you may imagine from a distance. In short, whatever is our state of life, no matter how much you love your job, no matter how intimate you are with your friends, at one time, you may have found yourself doing the luggage and ready to flee to your Emmaus. You just felt you had enough. Isn’t this Sunday’s Gospel a bit like that?
Bible readings Acts 2:14, 22b-33 Psalm 15 1 Peter 1:17-21 Luke 24: 13-35
On the way to Emmaus
Two disciples are on the road to Emmaus. Why do they leave? What are they going to do? When will they come back? More questions than answers! But one thing is clear; they are walking away from the community and going their way. They may have the intention to come back but it’s also possible that they leave for good. In fact, they are in the bad mood. Their life project seems to have flopped and they are brooding over it. Later, they will tell the stranger walking with them: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
When Jesus joins them, he doesn’t scold them for abandoning the other disciples –no moral lesson. He asks with respect a question for comprehension; he wants to understand what’s going on inside them: “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” That’s the question Jesus poses to downcast disciples. He walks with them, helping them to understand that painful experience in the light of the word of God. At the end of that walk, in the evening, the three are at table. Jesus takes bread, blesses God for it, breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples. In this gesture of sharing the disciples recognise the stranger –it’s the Lord. Later, they will laugh at themselves, how blind we were, indeed, “were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” The same one who had asked the stranger to stay with them because it’s was getting dark, now they forget it’s night. They rush back to Jerusalem to break the news of their encounter with the Lord.
Let’s pose for some considerations here. The disciples have been walking and talking, but with a stranger. The only come to recognise him in the act of sharing bread. Where people sit together to share the little they have, share the fraternity of the common humanity –there the face of Jesus is revealed. And thanks to their hospitality to the stranger, despite their own worries, the two disciples have the joy of having the face of the risen Lord revealed to them. Lord, help me not close my heart, perhaps you are revealing yourself to me through this stranger who approaches me.
Face of a Christian, face of a Christian community
Have you ever wondered; by what sign do others recognise your presence? What’s your face? Perhaps, that may help us to clarify what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. It’s possible that we may have attached great importance to many other things, leaving aside the essentials. Christians are they not persons who are trying to make sense of their lives, even painful experiences, in the light of the message of Christ? A Christians, are they not a community of people who have the joy of finding a moment to sit together and share who they are and what they have? Are they not persons who lend their ear to listen to the other pour out his heart after a distressful day, welcoming the other’s sharing, without rushing to judge? Indeed, the disciples recognise Jesus through the fraternity of sitting together to share a meal. And you, what’s your face? How do people become aware of your presence?
Your Emmaus companion
Our life progresses but in zigzags; it’s never straight –there are just plenty of twists. That can be draining. Our life is never always on the level ground. Sometime we descend so low till we hit the bottom and we have no idea how we will get out of it. Other times, we need to push ourselves uphill. We wonder if we will get enough energy to reach the top. That’s our road to Emmaus. Here, we are not talking about history.
Think for a moment about your job, your relationships: with friends, your spouse, your children, your parents…. Probably, not long ago you felt like packing and disappear. And this Sunday, Jesus comes to join you on the way to your Emmaus, that place you are fleeing to. He’s gently asking you: what’s going on with you? He’s enlightening you so that you can see and understand whatever your experience is, in the light of God who never leaves things to chance. It’s his design of love that pilots. You may have had a tough week, never close heart. That stranger, apparently annoying, could just be the one, to make you hatch out from the shell of sadness to become a messenger of good tidings, like those fleeing disciples.
Towards fourth Sunday of Easter
The fourth Sunday of Easter, we have the gospel of the good shepherd. And Catholics all over the world pray for vocations. In some areas the entire week is dedicated to prayer, conferences and activities related to vocation, beginning the third Sunday and they conclude on forth Sunday. I invite you already to enter this week for vocations. But, one precision.
Yes, we pray for vocations but not only for priesthood and religious life. Pray for vocations that cut across the different states of life so that through whatever we do, in all states of life, we may be men and women who reflect this compassionate face of Christ. Indeed, the world is need of men and women who know to walk alongside those with hearts heavy with worries.
Pose a moment. Think of that sister, think of that brother in Christ who may be just packing his bag, ready to leave his job, to leave his vocation, to leave his wife, his husband, and his children. Let’s carry them all in our prayers; that they may meet Jesus who comes to walk alongside them, to give meaning to their lives and to console them with his face.
Yes, Lord, show us face, it’s your face we seek!
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