WALKING WITH THE LORD
It may happen to us, as to the disciples on Emmaus, that we are discouraged and disillusioned on our pilgrim of life. Without being aware of the Lord’s presence, we travel, we converse with strangers or friends, we eat meals, we are indifferent or have little hope. But questioned by the words and the presence of the Risen Lord, we journey forward with him as our brother and Lord, we recognize him with one another and particularly in our Eucharistic assemblies. We become a people of hope. We recognize him when we break bread for one another. And when we share what we have with one another. And if so, people may perhaps recognize him also in us. Like the lame man in the first reading, we get on our feet, jump about with joy and hope, and praise God in word and deed.
1 Reading ACTS 3:1-10
Peter and John were going up to the temple area
for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
And a man crippled from birth was carried
and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day
to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms.
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John,
and said, “Look at us.”
He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you:
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up,
and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.
He leaped up, stood, and walked around,
and went into the temple with them,
walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
they recognized him as the one
who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple,
and they were filled with amazement and astonishment
at what had happened to him.
Responsorial Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R. (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
Alleluia PS 118:24
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 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.
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 Christ 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.
At one stage in my initial formation years, I was stuck in vocational doubts and had a hard time deciding which way to proceed. A priest-friend of mine then commented: “If you think too long about your next step, you might die standing on one leg.” Fair enough! Life is a mystery.
As mystery, “life is to be lived forward and understood backwards” (Kierkegaard). We make decisions informed by faith and morals. Some of them seemingly succeed, some others seemingly fail. But if we have built our lives on good foundations, we will eventually find that everything makes sense within the grand design of God. But this needs the wisdom to “understand backwards.” It is this backward understanding that Jesus is providing to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. Once they develop such hindsight, their hearts burn in recognition of God and His works, and they embrace their life ahead with passion and delight.
How good is your hindsight? Does it liberate you to embrace God’s gift of life with its many mysteries—joyful, sorrowful, glorious, and luminous?
With the Gospel of today, could we say together with the disciples of Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning within us, when Jesus was walking with us on the road and speaking his Good News to us?” May the Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!