Today, we hear the account of two disciples walking along, not in a hurry, not noticing other travelers that passed them by as they made their way along the road to Emmaus.
It was the late afternoon of Easter Sunday. The two disciples with heads bowed were deeply engrossed in a discussion about all that had happened over the last few days, in regard to the Man who had given them hope for the future. But now He was dead. Not only had they seen Him die, but His body was reported to have disappeared from the tomb followed by rumors of Him having risen from the dead.
They felt sad, disappointed, confused and dejected all at the same time, and doubted that there was any truth to the rumor about his resurrection. Jesus whom they followed for three years was dead and all their hope for their future with Him was gone; they thought that He was the one who would set Israel free”.
As they walked along the road, Jesus appeared behind them. At first, they didn’t notice him, but He caught up with them and began to walk along with them – yet because of the darkness of their grief, they failed to recognize Him, but they let Him join them.
There they were – all three of them – walking along the road. They began to relate to Jesus, (not knowing who He was), all the events that had taken place the last few days, but they were obviously confused and upset.
Jesus listened to them, answered their questions and began to explain the scriptures to them. He opened their minds to what had happened, so that their hearts might be stirred and their hope might be regained.
As they drew near the village, Jesus acted as though He was going further, but they begged Him to stay with them and eat a meal. At the meal, Jesus broke the bread, blessed it and gave it to them and their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.
So often we, like those two disciples, are saddened and confused by the happenings of our lives – by the coronavirus. And yet we go plugging along – not because we feel we have anything much to look forward to but because: ”What else can we do?” Our faith urges us on regardless of circumstances. Faith tells us that God will take care of us no matter what. As Jesus gave the two disciples on the road hope, He gives us hope and strength on our journey.
At times, each one of us travels along that dusty road without seeing the trees, the flowers or the people who pass us by. We get so caught-up in our problems, in our confinement from the virus, and our lack of understanding, that we fail to recognize Jesus when He tries to enter into our lives.
We withdraw into the privacy of our grief’s, we close the doors of our souls to the comfort and understanding of the Holy Spirit. If only we could lift our heads, focus our gaze, and look deeply into the eyes of Jesus – the One who walks with us on our journey to the house of our Father.
“The breaking of bread” was and is the celebration of the mass. For the disciples and for us, the mass is the entering into communion with the real Jesus – the Jesus who is truly present under the appearance of the simple elements of bread and wine. Throughout the centuries, Jesus has remained present in the church through the mystery of the Eucharist “The breaking of the bread”. It is here, when we come together amid the trials of our lives and even the trials of our society – it is here in this mass – that Jesus is truly present in all of His power. Our lives can be strengthened – if we open our hearts to Him, as the disciples did at that dinner in Emmaus on the first Easter evening.
Through the strength and power of the Eucharist, we as individuals and as a Basilica parish can live the Gospel challenges we face when we seek union with Jesus in the Eucharist – as did the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and the people of the Apostolic Church.
The Acts of the Apostles, written by Saint Luke, describes a peaceful, perfect, idyllic community of believers who were “of one heart and one mind.” the lives of the early Christians were committed to the risen Lord Jesus and to the work of his church and centered on “The breaking of the bread – the Eucharist”.
“Oh, how foolish you are!” Jesus said to the two disciples. “How slow you are to believe all that the prophets spoke!” The early Christians recognized how good God had been to them through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They recognized the forgiveness and the life that had come from the cross and resurrection of their Lord. They accepted His mercy, forgiveness and love.
Today, our thoughts must focus on how we at this Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption – are called to live as a vibrant caring community with our eyes focused on the presence of Jesus who walks with us. He is here! He abides with us! He is in our midst (as our coat of arms says). He dwells among us in the Eucharist.