The disciples on the road to Emmaus are discouraged and downcast, heading away from Jerusalem: The site of the resurrection, the place where they are to go and await the Lord. They have heard the rumors of resurrection, but they cannot believe after such a disastrous and seemingly definitive end to the life and mission of Jesus. Their hope is crushed, their courage has failed them. Have you ever found yourself wandering away from the path set before you by the Lord in the wake of the sorrows, trails and sinfulness of this world? Jesus, who will never abandon us, meets the disciples where they are and probes their hearts. He gives them His mild rebuke: “Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” He then gently instructs and redirects them with the power of His Word.
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.
If there is one thing that we spiritual sojourners constantly face it is the the disorientation of our own sinfulness. Walking toward the Light can be discouraging, like driving into the sun, every spot on our windshield shows. I often find myself tossed to and fro between despairing self-condemnation and blinding self-justification. Both extremes will divert us from our journey into a deeper relationship with the Lord. We fail to move with conviction, or sometimes without our complete awareness, we change our direction and move farther away from the Light at the slightest failure. Like the two disciples, in times of discouragement and sorrow, sometimes we discover we are on a path heading away from our true destination.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. Psalm 16:11
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Psalm 16:7-8
And where specifically does Jesus council and redirect the faltering steps of the disciples? To the Mass! We see in the account of this encounter with Christ the power of the Mass in our growth as Christians. When we go to Mass we first allow our hearts to be convicted of our individual tendencies to veer off the path of life in the penitential rite, the Word prepares us to see and believe not only with our eyes but also with our interior vision The intimate fellowship with our Eucharistic Jesus is where our interior eyes are opened and our wounds are healed. And then, with this interior vision refreshed and strengthen, we are sent out redirected and with a mission to bring His light to those who we encounter in our daily lives.
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem…Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:33;35The interior vision that we are to cultivate during our time of sojourning is so crucial to staying on the path that leads to resurrection. It is also difficult to really abandon yourself to, because at some point you will have to see that you are in need of redirection! Who wants to see that they have failed? Yet, we are not created to be surface dwellers in the flesh, content with making things look nice and feel comfortable, we need to pierce the veneer and see the dead man’s bones that lie underneath. If we do not push through the despair and pride and allow the light of the Lord to reveal our wounds, fears and failings, we will end up on the road leading away from Him. When we encounter the Lord in our failures -- and you do; He does not abandon you -- we need to respond and ask Him to stay, to feed us and heal us.
Allow the Lord to redirect you, lift up your despairing eyes, shed your prideful blinders. Yes, when you walk toward the light your flaws become so visible, but rejoice! He is Risen, and He comes to you now just as you are to be your strength, to be your righteousness, to feed you and fill you with His joy.
you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, Psalm 16:10
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, 1 Peter 1:17-18
Scripture passages from the Mass readings for the Third Sunday of Easter