It was only three days after his death, but Jesus had already risen, and had appeared to the two companions, fulfilling his promise and reassuring them that He would be with them always. But they failed to recognise him and did not remember the pledge Jesus had given them when He said:
“Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of times.”
What a tremendous truth this is, how incredible to realise that, as Saint Paul put it:
“I live now not I but Christ lives in me!”
If this is the case, then I am challenged to live as He did, trying to make this world a better place
Jesus is beside me, walking with me but, like the two disciples in our story, I am often so unaware of his presence and live my life as if I were depending only on myself and my own resources. And even when I do acknowledge his abiding presence, I often ignore him, fail to spend time with him, and can be so busy that I forget that He is there beside me at all.
And Jesus is not only with me, but He is also in everybody that I meet. What a different place our world would be if we would all acknowledge this truth and really live by it! How different and life-giving would our relationships become, and how much more peaceful our lives would be. But we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are all Christ-bearers. To help us with this realisation it would be a good idea today to try to pray more often and to live out the simple mantra:
“I thank you Lord for the wonder of my being and for the miracle of your presence in me and in everyone I meet.”
To enable us to become more aware of the ever-abiding presence of God with us I would like to share with you an inspiring thought which I came upon recently:
I whispered: “God, speak to me.”
and a meadow lark sang – But I did not hear!
So I yelled: “God, speak to me.”
and the thunder rolled across the sky – but I still did not listen!
I looked around and shouted: “God, let me see you.”
and the sun shone brightly – but I did not see
And I shouted even louder: “God, show me a miracle.”
And, a baby was born – but I did not notice!
So I cried out in despair – “Touch me, God, and let me know you are here.”
Whereupon God reached down and touched me –
but I brushed away the butterfly and walked on.
Then in desperation I pleaded: “God, I really need your help today.”
And an e-mail arrived bearing good news and words of encouragement –
but I immediately deleted it – and kept on crying! (God Whispers)
God is always around us in the simple things of life.
And all we have to do is to trust, and lay our lives before the God who loves us.
Returning to our Gospel text, we soon realise that Jesus took the travellers as they were. After walking some time with them and hearing them in conversation, He said:
“What are you talking about?”
It was a simple question that evoked an immediate reaction. Jesus listened to their rambling story. He shared their pain and sorrow, their depression and their sadness. He did not reject them, but challenged them:
“You foolish people! So slow to believe what the Prophets had foretold.”
Then He began to explain the Scriptures to them. He obviously made an impact with his preaching, so much so that they wanted him to stay and pleaded with him to enter their home and join in a meal with them. He did, and they were moved and touched by the whole experience:
“Were not our hearts burning within us as He shared Scripture with us?”
It was their first experience of Lectio Divina, one which changed their lives. Now, instead of being sad, frightened, pessimistic men, they were fired with zeal and enthusiasm, for the living Word of God. They set forth immediately to return to Jerusalem and were challenged to give witness to the Resurrection of Christ to all they would meet on the way.
“There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the Living Word of God, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with him.”
Today we too are given another opportunity to experience Lectio Divina in ourselves, and to be committed to it, especially in our communities. This practice of reading, listening and sharing the Word of God together and then trying to put it into action is essential for our lives. Through it, we also will be like the two disciples who were transformed by the presence of Jesus.
“Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it and gave it to the two who were at table with him.”
Then Jesus disappeared from their sight. At that moment they both recognised him in the breaking of bread. Do we recognise the real meaning of the Eucharist? Do we appreciate this gift?
This is a transforming text, this beautiful story about the Disciples on the road to Emmaus, and if we really listen to its various aspects, we will recognise in it four outstanding truths: the importance of sharing Scripture; Lectio Divina; the deepening realisation of the abiding presence of God in ourselves and in everyone we meet; the need for hospitality; and the appreciation of the Eucharist as the centre of our lives.
And so, on this third Sunday of Easter, we pray for one another, and as we reflect upon the Gospel of the day, we pray for a growing realisation of a loving God in our midst, who walks always with us and never leaves us. We thank God for enlightening us by his holy Word in Scripture. We praise and thank him for the precious gift of the Eucharist and pray that we may have a deeper appreciation of and belief in this wonderful God-given grace. And finally, we acknowledge the importance of hospitality in our world and pray that our homes may be an open door where everyone is made welcome, just as Jesus was received by his two companions.
Stay with us, Lord, we pray you. Alleluia
Sr. Padraigín Mc Kenna OP