Published in Davao Catholic HERALD
April 6, 2008
The late Pope John Paul II’s last Apostolic Exhortation written a few months before his death on April 2, 2005, bears this title. It is taken from this Sunday’s Gospel reading in which the disciples on the road to Emmaus urged Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening…”
The pope: “Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the Divine Wayfarer continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God. When we meet him fully, we will pass from the light of the Word to the light streaming from the “Bread of life”, the supreme fulfillment of his promise to “be with us always, to the end of the age” (cf. Mt 28:20)” (MND, 2).
Amidst life’s questions and difficulties, “and even our bitter disappointments”, do we frequently turn to Jesus “to walk at our side”? Or do we cling to our own narrow perspectives of things and try to find the way out on our own?
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“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (Lk. 24:15-16).
Oftentimes, our confusions and petty worries in life prevent us from recognizing the Lord as He walks along life’s journey with us. We are often distracted by imagined or even real problems along the way that we lose sight of Him who took the initiative of walking with us.
Peter once experienced this when He asked Jesus to let him walk on the water also. "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus said, "Come.” Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
The perception of the strong wind made him doubt on Jesus’ presence. We should not allow whatever problem, confusion, and sadness to weigh us down to the point of doubting God’s presence in our lives.
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St. Luke’s account is obviously referring to the Holy Eucharist. This is why, the late Polish pope took this Gospel passage as the basis of his Apostolic Exhortation. According to him, “The image of the disciples on the way to Emmaus can serve as a fitting guide for a Year when the Church will be particularly engaged in living out the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.” He was referring to the Year of the Eucharist, from October 2004 to October 2005.
I THINK these two disciples also present to us an image of ourselves today. Often, there is widespread confusion and lack of clarity over certain issues that confront us. And we are driven by mere opinions of the majority, tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching'.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a homily before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the College of Cardinals: "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires... The Church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties.... We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith."
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“Then, Jesus interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures…and they recognized Him in the ‘breaking of the bread’…but He vanished from their sight.”
In our confusions about faith and morals, to whom do we turn? The disciples recognized Jesus in the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread. The Holy Scriptures will “keep our hearts burning” until our eyes are opened and we shall see the Lord in the ‘breaking of the bread’.
In every celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Road to Emmaus is made present once again. And the words of the disciples echo in our hearts: ‘Mane nobiscum, Domine.’
But the Lord vanishes from our sight for physically we don’t see Him. Yet, He is actually staying with us in the Bread and Wine so that where sight, touch and taste are deceived in Him, only His words could make us believe that He is with us.