Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Lk. 24:13-35
Suffering Is Part of Life!
1. In today’s Gospel, Jesus called two of his Disciples fools. Why? The two men on the road to Emmaus were frustrated and disappointed. They were upset with Jesus for acting as a stranger in Jerusalem and asking them a question. “What are you talking about to each other as you walk along?” How could Jesus ask them such a question: “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened there these last few days? “What things?” Christ asked them. Christ wants to know what is going on in our lives. He wants us to tell Him about our troubles, sadness, worries, and joys. He wants us to share our stories with Him. He wants us to tell him about the violence in our cities and how irresponsible gun ownership devastates the lives of ordinary people without guns. He tells us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matt. 11:28-30). When we are confused, as the men on the road to Emmaus were, we must find Jesus walking on the road with us. Can we identify him? When in doubt, we must turn to Him for comfort. When we are disappointed, Christ will console us. He understands us now more than ever. Christ will always meet us on the way of our worries, fears, and anxiety. He will ask questions, and He will listen attentively to us.
2. “There at times when our sterile worries, futile pleasures, and vain preoccupations cloud our eyes so much that we cannot recognize the Lord as we should. As their conversation reveals, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were thoroughly distracted, unfocused, frightened, and downhearted.” (New Horizon Homilies, Philip John, SSP, and Premdas, SSP). Their answer to Jesus clearly showed their frustration. They closed their minds to the Scriptures. One could feel their incredulity and doubts as they recounted their litany of woes to the stranger. They told him: “We were hoping He would be the one to redeem Israel.” (Acts 2:21). We have been tempted many times to turn away from God, Christ, and the Church because our expectations were unmet.
3. Often, we think that once we go to Church, say our prayers, pay tithes, and keep the commandments, our problems will be solved. How false are these assumptions? Many people have been so disappointed by the sexual abuse of clergy that they swore never to return to or give money to the Church. Others stopped giving because they felt the Church had disappointed them. Yet others turned away because they disagreed with the Church’s teaching on marriage, divorce, gay marriage, and the like. Many have refused to approach the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and outrightly declined to go to confession. Like the men on the way to Emmaus followed the Lord with hope, joy, and belief that God sent him to establish His kingdom on earth, we often feel that way too. But when the storms of life hit us hard, we are disillusioned and stop believing in God and the Church.
4. “Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” Jesus then explained what was said about himself in all the scriptures, beginning with Moses and the prophets’ writings. Often in our frustration and despair, we turn away from Jesus, but He never abandons us; He speaks to our hearts. As the two men on the road to Emmaus who listened to a stranger talk to their hearts, Jesus is the stranger who walks with us on our road of sadness and stress. He will open our minds to the Scriptures, and our hearts will burn within us. He will lead us to the Eucharist and give us His body to eat and His blood to drink.
5. Whenever we turn away from the Church, Christ comes in search of us. He will never force himself on us but will always wait to be invited. And after explaining the Scriptures to the two men, He did as if He was going on further, waiting for them to ask Him in. Once He was invited in, He broke the bread with them. They rediscovered their Lord at the breaking of the bread. He was never far from them; they were too preoccupied to see Him. Let us pray that we may see Jesus who stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. May we hear the voice of Jesus as he breaks the Word that burns our hearts and breaks the Bread that feeds us and makes us whole? Amen.
Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP