Sunday, May 8, 2011
Why we need Emmaus
Today's Gospel presents us with St. Luke's account of the journey to Emmaus. Two of Jesus' discples, one of them Cleopas (whose wife, Mary, joined the Blessed Mother and St. Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross), make the long journey back to Emmaus, walking the seven-mile trip (or so) and reviewing all that had happened three days ago concerning Jesus. Cleopas and his friend are walking away from Jerusalem, away from the surviving 11 and away from Jesus.
All of a sudden, the One whom they are discussing suddenly appears, but, they do not recognize Him. Jesus asks them what they are talking about and Cleopas asks Him if He's the only one who does not know what had happened during these past three days. There is a bit of humor here. Of course, He knows. Jesus was there. At this point, Jesus begins to explain to the two disciples just why these things had to happen, breaking open the Scriptures in the process, the Liturgy of the Word, if you will. Suddenly, something is stirring within the two men and they invite their Guest to abide with them. Little do they know that they are in for a major surprise. Jesus takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it and gives it to the disciples. The moment they recognize Him, He vanishes from their sight. Cleopas and the other disciple recognize Jesus in the "breaking of the bread", that is to say, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Then, they make a mad dash back to Jerusalem to tell the others. When they get there, they find out that Jesus has, indeed, appeared, first to Simon Peter and then the others.
When Jesus said "Do this in memory of Me" at the Last Supper, He was telling the Apostles and their successors, that this was now how He would remain, how He would continue to abide with them, and with us, under the forms of bread and wine. The Eucharist is His pledge of Love to us, a Love that endured suffering and torment for our sakes.
It is that same love that compelled Cleopas and his friend to rush back to Jerusalem, the very place they were running away from, and return to the Upper Room.
In his Apostolic visit to Aquileia, Pope Benedict XVI noted that we need to have another Emmaus, so to speak. We need to return back to Jesus and not run away.
Here is the Google translation of the homily he preached this morning:
One of the Holy Father's priorities remains the re-Christianization of Europe. As he pointed out in his homily, there is an urgent need to once again evangelize the continent. Like St. Benedict in the Dark Ages, Pope Benedict XVI is trying to restore Europe's Christian identity. During the Last Supper, Jesus told St. Peter that when he turned, that the Prince of the Apostles should confirm his brethren in the Faith. That is exactly what Pope Benedict XVI has spent these last six years doing.
Many of us have fled the place of loving suffering to walk towards our own Emmaus. But, Jesus walks along with us, though we do not yet recognize Him. Yet, He is there if only we look for Him in the Holy Eucharist where He breaks open the Scriptures for us and then breaks the heavenly Bread that is His very self.