The Emmaus Experience
Road to Emmaus
3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
A young boy was walking home through the park after attending a Sunday school class. Somehow, he couldn’t stop thinking about the lesson for that day about Jesus’ teaching on the Last Judgment. What impressed him most was what the teacher said, "When you give something to another person, you’re really giving it to Jesus, and you will find the risen Jesus in everyone you meet." As he continued through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a bench. She looked lonely and hungry. So he sat down next to her, took a chocolate bar he had saved and offered some to her. She accepted it with a beautiful smile and he watched her smiles as she chewed the chocolate. Then they sat together in silence, just smiling at each other. Finally, the boy got up to leave. As he began to walk away, he turned, ran back to the bench, and gave the woman a big hug. When he arrived home, his mother saw a big smile on his face and asked, "What made you so happy today?" He said, "I shared my chocolate bar with Jesus." Before his mother could ask more questions, he added, "You know, she has the most beautiful smile in the world." Meanwhile, the old woman returned to her little apartment where she lived with her sister. "You’re all smiles," said her sister. "What made you so happy today?" She replied, "I was sitting in the park, eating a chocolate bar with Jesus. And, you know, he looks a lot younger than I expected."
Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter. The fact is that, it is STILL EASTER! And because it is Easter, we should still be rejoicing for Christ has conquered death and has given us new life. And so we ask the question: “Have we forgotten Him or if not, did we fail to recognize Him just like some of Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection as narrated in our Gospel today? There are three important aspects of this particular Gospel passage:
1. The first aspect is the disciples’ INABILITY TO SEE AND RECOGNIZE JESUS. Don’t you find it odd that Jesus disciples weren’t able to recognize Jesus? But one thing is very striking that after doubting, they became a sure believer of the Risen Christ. In some of Jesus’ appearance he would say, “Do not be afraid!” Fear is the opposite of trust. When Christ tells us not to be afraid, he tells us simply to trust in Him. He tells us to have FAITH in Him! He tells us to see and recognize Him present in each and every brother and sister that we encounter in our life. He makes Himself present. We just have to keep an OPEN and FAITH-FILLED eyes.
Several years ago a group of computer salesmen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in time for dinner. But the meeting ran overtime, and the men had to race to the railway station, tickets in hand. As they barged through the terminal, one man inadvertently kicked over a table supporting a basket of apples. Without stopping, all the men reached the train and boarded it with sighs of relief. But one of them paused, feeling a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple stand had been overturned. He waved goodbye to his companions and returned to the boy. He was glad he had because the ten-year-old boy was blind. The salesman gathered up the apples and noticed that several of them were bruised. He reached into his wallet and said to the boy, "Here, please take this ten-dollar bill for the damage we did. I hope it won't spoil your day." As he started to walk away, the bewildered boy called after him, "Are you Jesus?" Jesus comes to us in various disguises.
2. The second important aspect is Jesus’ invitation TO GO BACK TO SCRIPTURES to understand the signs that they have heard. It is interesting to note that in order for Jesus' disciples to recognize Him, He will have to break open the WORD for them. It is to remind them how much God has loved them. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and God's faithfulness and love go all the way back from the beginning of time. The challenge for us today is to continue searching for the truth about Jesus; the absolute truth, which we can find in SCRIPTURE. In so many ways, it is easier to live at the level of doubt and to reject the Church. It is an enormous challenge to see the presence of Jesus Christ at work in His Church, bringing holiness and love to our world.
Today, we face the same concerns as Jesus' modern disciples: we believe in Jesus but have our doubts that He is present in the Catholic Church. It is the Lord Himself who invites us to believe in His Church. Let us go forward with faith and confidence. Let us follow the Lord.
There is a part of us that does not recognize or at least fail to recognize the Lord when our life, our future, or our well-being is at stake. Today we are invited to bring this negative side of us to God for healing. Let us everyone whether they be our friends, relatives, family members, neighbors of what this season resounds. It is to tell us that Jesus brought healing and life to all mankind.
3. Finally, the third important aspect is that we learn the TRUE MEANING OF PEACE. Jesus’ greeting to His apostles on Easter Sunday night was “Peace be with you!” A person full of fear does not know peace. Before we know peace we have to know who we can trust and know that our trust is secure. Our trust is secure in Jesus but we all wish that God would give us more proof just like the apostles did. They achieved true peace upon knowing that Christ truly has risen from dead and is alive in their midst especially in the breaking of the bread. They were able to realize peace in the presence of their Master, the true source of their security … the true source of peace.
Are we a peaceful person who recognizes Christ as our true Savior and guide? We should realize by now that material things do not give us complete security and peace as taught to us by recent calamities and natural disasters. We should know by now that the only way to peace is by fully acknowledging the presence of Christ, who is with us both physically and spiritually in the Eucharist.
The challenge for us today, the 3rd Sunday of Easter is to not be afraid; to trust in God that all may be well; and more importantly, that we may achieve peace as we recognize Christ as the source of peace. Let us ask for the gift of courage in order that fear may not overcome us but faith in God instead.
I lost another dear friend, Fr. Jesse "Jum-Jum" Guillergan, Jr. early this week to diabetic complications. He died in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. It took awhile for me to make a full sense of losing a dear friend. Truly, this is an Emmaus experience for me. God is trying to remind me that He is just right here asking me to acknowledge Him. In this difficult and trying times, He walks with me as He did to His two disciples in the Gospel. In order to recognize Him, I will have to allow the Lord to heal my broken heart. In order to recognize Him, I have to allow His will over mine. Fr. Jum-Jum is in a better place with God by his side. No more pain, no more tears but peace in his Father's embrace.
May God bless us all!