To Emmaus & Back
Today is an exciting day for many of us, especially for our young people who have been looking forward to joining us at the table of the Eucharist for the first time. We can tell it is an exciting day because you are dressed better than most any other time you’ve come to church. And some of you had to take a shower before church! And you brought your parents and other family members with you! Now most of us here today are also pretty excited. I’m not saying all of us because I don’t know that for sure. But we can tell something wonderful and exciting is happening here today.
Just recently, we celebrated the great feast of Easter. Three days after Jesus’ enemies put him to death by nailing him on a cross, his friends heard news that he was alive again! It was amazing news, and they found it hard to believe at first. They said he was no longer dead, that he had risen. Many, many years later, we know that the news of Jesus being alive is truly good news. But when the women went to anoint the body of Jesus early that Easter Sunday morning, nobody believed them when they returned with incredible news. They spoke of angels who told them Jesus was alive. Jesus’ friends were probably confused. And we read in the gospel today that two of them just had to get away; we don’t know why. Perhaps they were afraid that Jesus’ enemies would come after them, too. They were also probably confused and angry. What they were hearing made absolutely no sense. And they really believed Jesus would do great things. So they traveled to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.
Emmaus represents that place we run to, any place we run to, to get away when life becomes frightful or confusing. And when life is frightful or confusing, Jesus comes looking for his friends. Jesus wants to walk with us, to help us understand what God’s plan is for us. Jesus does this when the Word of God in sacred scripture is proclaimed and preached at mass. By listening to God’s Word we come to know God’s care for us. We learn that God has a wonderful plan for the human family, and God desires to walk with us along the journey of our lives.
Now Jesus had also shared many meals with his friends. And when we share a meal with friends, our spirits are nourished along with our bodies. So when Jesus broke bread with his two disciples, their eyes were suddenly opened. It was at table that they realized he had been with them all along. They recalled how their hearts were burning as he talked to them on the way. His words touched them deeply. And he gave them courage to dispel their fears. So they decided to return to Jerusalem, to tell all their friends that they had seen Jesus, that he was indeed alive, that they need not be afraid.
Before we gather around the table of the Eucharist, we first listen to God’s Word proclaimed and preached, so that we might see how Jesus walks with us on our life’s journey, to help us understand what God’s plan is for us. So when we come to the table of the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus. We realize that Jesus is alive, and that he shares his life with us in bread and wine. Life can be frightful and confusing sometimes. But when we return from Emmaus, we leave our fears behind.
Rolo B Castillo © 2014