We are all likely familiar with the “walk to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-35) by two of Christ’s disciples the evening of the Resurrection in Luke’s Gospel. These two men, overcome with hopelessness and discouragement, were talking about the incredible events they had witnessed over the previous few days as they were walking to their home village of Emmaus outside of Jerusalem. As I read this Gospel passage recently, I was struck by the parallels with our modern world. These two men were anxious, despondent, and uncertain of their future and had even begun referring to Christ in the past tense. Considering the times we live in, don’t we sometimes act and think like these two disciples?
The attacks on Christians around the world, the ongoing scandals in the Church, the disturbing political division in the U.S. and the eroding of values and morality in public life are just a few of the challenges causing many of us to feel discouragement, anxiety and even a lack of faith. The valuable lessons of Emmaus Road are manifold, but four were very apparent to me as I reflected and prayed:
- Without a doubt, our faith will be tested. If put to the test, will we abandon all hope in Christ and look to our own efforts or will we trust in Him? Will we have the kind of faith that endures trials and suffering? People of faith are in for difficult times ahead and we must be prepared to withstand the pervasive influence of the secular world and the forces of evil that will be thrown against us.
- Are we willing to be helped? When Christ appears to the disciples on the journey, he interprets the events of the previous days for them in the light of the Scriptures. Their faith and hope are restored through the Lord’s help. Are we prepared to accept help? It is available to us every day through the Eucharist in the Mass, Reconciliation, an active prayer life, spiritual direction, the Bible and Catechism and the candid advice of trusted friends who share our faith and values.
- Christ will be revealed to us. When the disciples were ready, Jesus allowed Himself to be recognized when He broke bread and said a blessing. He will also be revealed to us if our hearts and minds are ready to see Him. He may be revealed in the suffering of the hungry and homeless, the struggling co-worker going through personal pain, a smiling newborn baby or those fleeting moments in Eucharistic adoration or other quiet prayer times when all distractions have disappeared and we are blessed with clarity and peace.
- We have a mission and it can’t wait. After Jesus revealed his true self to the disciples, he disappeared. They arose at once and set off for Jerusalem to share what they had seen. They had a mission, as do we. The bottom line is even though we are made for Heaven and not this world, we are called to live and do God’s work while we are here. Being devout in the practice of our faith, helping our families and everyone else get to Heaven and living courageous and authentic Catholic lives in the public square are part of our calling. Today’s world desperately needs us to accept this responsibility.
Please reflect on these lessons as I have and pray for the wisdom, discernment and courage to make necessary changes. We are all susceptible to discouragement, anxiety and doubts, but we serve a wonderful, living God who is faithful to His promises. Think about how the disciples felt as they discussed their walk with Jesus: “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). We too can experience our hearts on fire if we are faithful and open to the help and love He is always willing to provide.
Have faith, have courage and seek Him out. He is waiting.
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