The WORD in Other Words by Fr Sonny de Rivera SVD (Rome) for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
I have met many people who have made incredible life journeys. They either followed the beaten track, the road less traveled or sometimes the unending winding roads. Going through a series of difficulties and challenges, they almost hung their towels and gave up, but for some reason (resilience, persistence, commitment?), they continued.
Today’s gospel presents two disciples on a journey to Emmaus. In despair, they are, literally, downtrodden. They are dragging their feet to a nearby village called Emmaus to escape the pain and defeat of having to accept that their once acclaimed teacher and Master in whom they pinned all their hopes of redemption for themselves and Israel, ended his life in crucifixion. He was mocked, derided, treated as a criminal and left with very little support from his followers.
Our life’s journey and the disciples’ journey to Emmaus must be seen from a more hopeful perspective. Going through difficulties, challenges – feeling blanketed with desperation at having nowhere to go, seeing no light that can penetrate the darkness of life in which we feel imprisoned – these can be journeys of renewal and maturation. Along the road to our Emmaus, the risen Christ comes up to us, but sometimes we fail to recognize him. During these problematic journeys Jesus makes himself present through the scriptures, expressing his eagerness to enter into the realm of all that matters to us, good or bad, and sits at table with us, breaking bread.
Pope Emeritus Benedict, addressing a Sunday crowd, years back, said “The fact that archaeologists have not identified the location of Emmaus with any certainty suggests that Emmaus is everywhere, the road that leads there is the path of every Christian, indeed, every human being.” He added, “On our journeys, the risen Jesus is a traveling companion who “rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope and the breaking of the bread of eternal life.” (Vatican website)
When our life enters into a crisis, our faith comes into play. Almost simultaneously, for many, there is also a crisis of confidence, a feeling of despair attributed to a sense of neglect from God. Our experience echoes the disciples’: we hoped, we believed, we followed but “he disappointed us.” We all experience moments of feeling abandoned and betrayed by the Lord.
However, the story of Emmaus suggests instead that it is possible to encounter the risen Jesus “still today.”
Still today Jesus speaks to us in the Scriptures; even today Jesus gives us his Body and his Blood. Are we ready to say “were not our hearts burning” when Jesus is speaking to us through the Scriptures? Can we express a sense of inner peace when we gather together around the table of the Bread?
No matter where our journeys in life are currently going, they all point to Emmaus where we readily meet the risen Christ leading us to maturation and renewal of our faith.
Source – The WORD in Other Words, Bible Diary 2020