THE ROAD OF LIFE
Their Lord had been betrayed by one of their own, then publicly crucified and now His tomb was empty. With mixed senses of sadness and incredulity, two disciples left for the small village of Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. On the way, they encountered Jesus as a stranger and retold the events of His suffering, death and Resurrection but from the perspective of a broken heart. Their disappointment coloured their outlook and prevented them from seeing the larger picture. The Lord put those events into the context of their faith tradition. At that, their eyes began to open but they did not truly see him until He broke bread with them.
Much has been written about the liturgical overtones of this passage. The believer travels on the road of life sometimes discounting the presence and activity of Christ in their life. The one proclaiming the word of God (an ordained minister standing ‘in persona Christi’) tries to give events in the believer’s life context and engenders a desire to come closer to the Lord. That desire can only be satiated when the Lord Himself (again represented by the minister standing ‘in persona Christi’) breaks bread within the community. In a way, the Emmaus narrative describes the Mass.
Western culture is inherently sceptical. We want proof of the “other worldly,” like ghosts, and some think those who claim to have seen such phenomena as perhaps fanciful. Yet, some cultures highly prize such seers as those who can look beyond this existence into the eternal. Still, an encounter with those beyond the grave can frighten the common person. Such was the experience of the disciples in Luke 24.
Even with the witness of the two on route to Emmaus, the appearance of the Risen Lord startled the men in the upper room. Jesus greeted them with “Shalom” (“Peace”) then challenged their incredulity in two ways. First, showing His wounds proved His identity. Secondly, consuming fish proved His corporeal existence. Both created an experience unlike any in history. Here was a man who not only survived death but transcended it; He was in this world, but existed beyond it. He possessed a reality a ghost could never have, for He possessed a resurrected body.
Now, the disciples had a mission; to witness to the Good News of the Resurrection. He who died was now alive, just as the Scriptures foretold. That event began the reconciliation of humanity with its maker. Today, as we contend with the sorrows and joys of life, we experience the full range of human complexities. What our Catholic faith proclaims on Easter day is that Christ embraces each one of us when He embraced the cross of sacrifice and He embraces each of us when He rose from the dead and escaped the confinement of the tomb. The resurrection connects us to the beginning of everything and with the end of everything.
As we bathe in the light and joy of Easter, let us reflect upon the road of life we have taken so far and resolve to stand always in the company of the risen Lord. Divine Mercy Sunday will help us do just that!
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