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Father Muench Says...

The story of Emmaus: a story about us

May 14, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Resurrection Scriptures – the Gospel stories of Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection – are a constant source of hope for all Christians. As we read them during this Easter Time, we are invited to a source of renewal:  strengthening our faith, becoming more confident in our future as disciples of Jesus.

In each story we are challenged by our God to become more ready to join Jesus in this new life to bring God’s love and peace to our part of the world.

These past weeks I have been thinking in a special way of the Emmaus story.  I am certain you remember this story – it is my favorite.  Jesus walks with two disciples who are walking home from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. 

The Gospel story tells us that they were sad and depressed.  They had such great hope for the future but then came the crucifixion of Jesus.  Now all their hopes are dashed. 

As they were walking and talking, Jesus comes along to join them.  We are told that they did not recognize that this person was Jesus.

Jesus notices their sadness and they explain to him why they feel so badly.  Jesus surprises them by explaining – “Was it not necessary that the Christ must suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Jesus walks along with them and gives them what we would call a Scripture lesson.  He interprets for them Moses and the prophets and all they wrote about Christ.  Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there?

As the story goes along, the two disciples invite Jesus to stay with them, when they reach their village.  They then recognize Jesus in the “breaking of the bread.”  Jesus breaks the bread, blesses it and gives it to them.  We recognize in these words the Holy Eucharist.

This is our story.  Like all Gospel stories the story is about us.  Put yourself in the story.  Many are the times when something happens to crush our faith – we become discouraged, even depressed – our faith become rather weak.  It is especially at these times that the Lord comes to walk with us.  It will not be as wonderful as the experience of the two disciples in our story. 

I am certain that it will be quite a surprise.  Yet, in faith, we will recognize his presence.  We will be aware that Jesus is truly with us, bringing us a new and more alive faith.

The Lord knows how to reach us. It may be through another person, a loved one, a friend or even a stranger.  The presence of Jesus will be very evident.  I believe that all of you have had this experience in your life.  I hope that you will say to me – “Of course, I know what you are talking about – I have experienced the Lord’s presence and love.” The Lord has walked with each of us.  The Lord will continue to walk with each of us especially, when we are in need.

Our Gospel story also reminds us that we can and should take the initiative to find the Lord Jesus in our lives.  This story tells us that the two disciples recognized Jesus in “the breaking of the bread.” 

For us, our best prayer – our time to be with the Lord – is in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, Our Blessed Lord touches us in a perfect way.

Jesus came to this earth to be with us – to bring God’s love to our world – to die and rise again for us all.  Jesus chose to remain with us. He told his apostles, “Do this in memory of me”  and so we have.  Each Eucharist transforms us completely. 

When we leave the Church after Mass, we are a different person – each and every time.  In the Mass, we have not just met the Lord, we are united with the Lord in a very special way, a unique way. He is one with us.  Jesus is truly with us – truly a part of us.

In the Gospel story, after Jesus left the two disciples, 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 – there is the test.  Have you had that experience? I would hope that this is your experience at every Mass.  “Hearts burning with love” – not some strange emotional experience.  Rather it is a happening – a flood of the Holy Spirit’s love and hope – that gives us the confidence that we can make a difference. With the Lord, we can make this a better world.     

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