On the day of Christ’s resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to the Village of Emmaus. It had been three days since the crucifixion of their master. And they were grieving.
Along the way they were joined by a man who eased their sadness as he explained the Scriptures to them concerning the Messiah. And although they did not recognize who he was, they knew they were in the presence of holiness. So they urged him to stay with them.
That evening while seated around the table, this very unique man took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Immediately their eyes were opened, and they recognized the risen Jesus in their midst. Then he vanished.
They exclaimed, "Were not our hearts burning … while he was opening the Scriptures to us?"
They returned to Jerusalem and shared with the apostles how they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
What a wonderful story! And what priceless lessons are contained in it!
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, there are sad roads we too must walk. Sometimes it seems like nearly the whole world is confused and sad. But confusion and sadness are most often of our doing.
Like the Emmaus disciples, we need to allow the Lord to open our minds and hearts to the wisdom and joy contained in Scripture. The word of God is eternally rich. But if we come to sacred Scripture full of ourselves, we leave no room for Jesus to explain its true meaning for us and our world.
For instance, how can we honestly read Jesus’ instructions in Matthew’s Gospel to feed the hungry and not be committed to ending global hunger and poverty?
How is possible to hear in that same passage our Lord’s teaching to welcome strangers, and yet possess disdain for undocumented workers?
How can we claim that we are really listening to Christ’s directive to care for the sick and those in prison, and yet refuse to urge government leaders to pass universal health-care coverage and meaningful prison reform?
And how can we sincerely meditate on Jesus’ command to put away the sword and not strive for multilateral disarmament and an end to all war?
If only we would allow Jesus to let the words of Scripture burn in our hearts like the Emmaus disciples did, how holier we would be, how better our world would be!
Why do so many Christians instead act as though evils like hunger, poverty, abortion and war are insurmountable facts of life? Has it not occurred that he who conquered sin and death can surely guide and strengthen us to transform our hurting world?
If like the Emmaus disciples we had enough faith to clearly recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread, our eucharistic gatherings would always be full of wonder and celebration. Then we would enthusiastically go out into the world to be bread for others.
Tony Magliano is a columnist for Catholic News Service.