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Back on the Road
Wednesday of the Octave of Easter
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my spiritual eyes to the power of your word and your faithful presence in my daily life.
- The Great Disappointment: Jesus’s appearance to the disciples on the way to Emmaus responds to the anguishing desire of our hearts to make sense of suffering. Jesus encounters his two friends in a shared experience of fear and lack of faith, discussing how the death of Jesus and the scandal of the cross have killed hope within them—an all too familiar situation for the early persecuted Christian community and also the predicament of many people today. Jesus gets close to them and walks by their side. He listens to their conversation and asks, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” Following the example of Jesus, we need to get close to suffering souls in our path and learn to listen to their reality, feel their problems—to be capable of asking questions that will help those around us to look at their reality from the perspective of faith.
- Stay with Us, Lord: “At every time and in every place, God draws close to man.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1). In every place and at every moment, Jesus comes unobtrusively near and patiently awaits for us to welcome him. This is an experience we desire whenever we pray. We start out on our own, perhaps a little hopeless and in need of his divine inspiration. When we share what is on our heart, Jesus listens, then gradually and gently, he sheds light. When he draws us to his word, a line from Scripture comes alive and reveals a nugget of understanding, consolation, and guidance. Our heart becomes lighter. Perhaps it even begins to burn with fervor and passion. Time spent with the Lord is never wasted. It allows for our friendship to grow. By the end of the prayer, we can sometimes find it difficult to leave. “Stay with me, Lord.” What a mysterious an awesome privilege it is to know the Lord’s presence in prayer.
- Back on the Road: In the Emmaus scene, we ponder how much Jesus not only wants to spend time with us but desires to remain with us. Jesus gives us not just ordinary bread, but his very self. Deep down in that mysterious place of our heart, we are nourished and strengthened with food for the journey of life. All we need is to be open, empty, and hungry to receive him. Satisfied and strengthened by his word and the Eucharist, the two disciples courageously, headed back on the road to Jerusalem. They knew that the same forces that had killed their hope still existed, but everything else had changed. Jesus was alive within them. They were resurrected! Fear, disbelief, and despair dissolved into faith, hope, and zeal. They were truly alive. Let us speak to Jesus about how the Good News of his Resurrection gives us the experience of life in abundance (John 10:10)!
Conversing with Christ: Like the two disciples I walk with you, Lord, journeying along many paths, but I do not always walk in the right direction. You made sense of the disciple’s distress through your presence and your word. Open my heart to your word and increase in my heart a desire for receiving you in the Eucharist. I thank you that I can always turn to you in prayer to open the ears of my heart to hear your voice and recognize your presence sowing seeds of hope. Give me the courage to move forward living from a life resurrected in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, and in gratitude for your presence in my life, I will reach out and invite a friend or family member in need to share a meal with me. Help me by your grace to listen, to learn, and to encourage them by sharing a message of hope.
For Further Reflection: Delve deeper into overcoming discouragement with “A Cure for Discouragement: A Retreat Guide for Easter,” a free, do-it-yourself retreat available in video, audio, and PDF formats.
Written by Lucy Honner