Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 26, 2020
The Road to Emmaus. This road is one we all travel. "The path of life" as we hear in the responsorial psalm. We've been walking on this road our entire lives and will continue to walk it until we arrive at our destination in Heaven. But even then, some say, the road will not end. In Heaven we will still be journeying deeper into the heart of God.
This is also the road for the Church. We see three significant components are present on the road: discipleship, scripture, and the Eucharist.
First, discipleship. The two disciples are walking together, conversing and relating the experiences of their heart to one another. Christ appears miraculously alongside them and shares in their communion and fellowship. The two disciples obviously enjoy being in the presence of this man they don't recognize immediately as Jesus, which is why they insist he spend the evening with them and share a meal. We do not live our faith in isolation. We share with one another and experience fellowship with Christ always in our midst, though we may not immediately recognize him present. This discipleship or communio leads to a deepening of our faith.
The second component is scripture. Christ breaks open to the disciples the Scriptures, explaining how the Old Testament foretells his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This unpacking of the scriptures leads to the burning of the hearts of the disciples. We have all felt that before when a truth of the faith is made clear to us or something we never knew before is presented. It's not just a lightbulb 'going on' in our minds, but a fire being lit in our hearts. Preaching and teaching, an act always rooted in Scripture, is fundamental in our church. In fact, preaching is called "the first office" or first duty of the priest. Christ, we say, was a prophet first, and then a priest and king. When we pray over the scriptures and preach it, we continue the outpouring of the mind of God. If you're curious what Jesus said specifically to the disciples on the Road—what exactly he explained from the Scriptures—just read Peter's sermon from Acts of the Apostles in our first reading. Christ spoke through Peter and still speaks through preachers today.
And, finally, the third component: the Eucharist. As much as the disciples appreciate walking with this stranger and hearing about the Scriptures, it is not until Mass is celebrated with them back at the house—Jesus "took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them" (Luke 24:30)—that their eyes are opened and they truly and completely understand. We all know about the Eucharist. It is Jesus' body and blood. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive Christ himself in our bodies and we are both united to him and transformed. The Church without the Eucharist is nothing. We are a mere non-profit, social organization: a "non-essential entity" as the government has deemed these COVID days. But don't let the government and health organization's classification fool you. For without the Eucharist and without the Church, mankind will be walking a road not to Heaven, but to nowhere. And this would be Hell, for Hell is merely the absence of God.
The Road to Emmaus is a beautiful one. It is the road of the Church. It is our own road, for, ultimately, it is the road into the heart of Christ.
Yours in Christ,