3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER – A
What if you invested your life to a cause which had gone wrong or to a dream which became a nightmare? What if your significant other or a beloved left you for good? What is there to hope for when the reason to hope falls into an abyss of despondency?
The two disciples of Emmaus represented the common and nameless disciples who after the death of Jesus were abandoning Jerusalem which used to be the symbol of their hope and dreams. While leaving Jerusalem behind and going back to their former lives, they were entering into darkness as symbolized by the setting of the story which was about twilight. But before they plunged into the darkness of their fallen dreams, the Risen Christ joined them in their journey. Too much engrossed in their loss, they did not recognized Jesus although they were aware of the earlier sightings and stories of women that day. Walking along with them, Jesus let them vent their frustrations about their prophet and the failure of his cause. In the midst of the darkness of their hearts, Jesus enlightened them by explaining and interpreting the Scriptures. Because the day was almost over, they invited Jesus to stay with them; inside the house there was a reversal of roles: the invited Guest now became the Host before a meal which soon became familiar to the disciples. Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke and gave it to them: these were the Eucharistic actions of their Master that was known to their circles. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him but he vanished from their sight. Going back to their journey when the ‘stranger” joined them, they affirmed that their hearts were burning when the scriptures were being explained to them. Immediately they went back to Jerusalem and reported their encounter to the Eleven.
In moments when things go wrong after we have done our best, we feel betrayed by life and deep inside us we cry out “It is unfair”. When our efforts and life-long works are not noticed and appreciated, we cringe into self-pity and we say “It is unjust.” When God seems indifferent to our prayers and pleas and we do not understand his silence, we are tempted to think “God has forgotten me”. The Emmaus experience tells us that the two disciples fell into disappointment because theirs was a human hope which was based on the human interpretation of the events. Jesus brought them to the level of theological hope which was the divine way of seeing realities. Seeing through the human eyes, the death of Jesus was a total failure but in seeing through the heaven’s eyes, it was a glorious exaltation of both God and man. We experience this in the present time when we gather as disciples of Jesus and celebrate the Sacraments in the Church, the apex of which is the Eucharist “the breaking of bread.”
Each of one of us has set a goal (or goals ) in life; we all want to achieve something definitive in this life. Our efforts are geared towards its blossoming and realization at the definitive time we have set for ourselves. But our time is always ticking and towards the end we will have to face the reality of the irreversible degeneration when all we treasure most will disintegrate into trash and decay. This was the dilemma of the two disciples of Emmaus and the same dilemma that we have to contend with for the rest of our life. Without theological hope we will all fall into hopelessness and despair. The only way out is to see everything around us as a gift! The only way to possess that gift is to share it in communion with our fellowmen. The two disciples of Emmaus could not contain the gift of the Risen Christ to themselves so they went back to Jerusalem with a mission to share their experience of the Resurrection.
The mission entrusted to us is far greater than our own desires in life.