Happy Third Sunday of Easter!
“That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast…” Luke 24:13-17
As you know the Gospel account of the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus is the favorite Gospel reading for Deacon Tom Liotta. In fact, if you follow our livestream Mass on Facebook or on the Saint Francis of Assisi webpage you will hear his homily on his favorite Gospel. It is a great Gospel reading. The two disciples are walking away from Jerusalem where they had seen the suffering and death of the Lord. These two disciples had been with the Lord, learned from him and were greatly saddened, disillusioned, conversing and debating all the things that had occurred as they walked away from Jerusalem. “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped, looking downcast…”
Sometimes in our own journey of faith - especially during the hard times, the difficult times or the times when we just have gone through so much - we can be like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It would be easy for us to walk away - to return home, or to our former way of life, or to the things that we find comfort in. What I like about this Gospel story is that Jesus comes in the midst of them. Please know, my beloved, that Jesus is always in our midst, especially in those moments of great difficulty, or great difficulties when the burdens are getting to be too much for us to bear.
A little personal story. When I was in the Seminary I really wanted to quit. I was homesick, stressed out, tired… I went to talk to my spiritual director and he patiently listened to it all. Then he turned to me and said that it was the wrong time to quit. A good spiritual maxim is that one should not quit when things are bad. Quit if you must when things improve and get better. While I was not happy with what he said at the time, it was formative for me in my life and something that I learned from and apply today. I, at the beginning of that time of spiritual direction, was like the disciples “looking downcast.” Yet later it was the Lord in the presence of my spiritual director that opened my eyes to what God had in store. Do not be afraid to follow Christ. He is close at hand. He is there next to you in those moments of difficulty.
I have been so incredibly blessed to have Deacon Tom, his wife Lynne and all of you as we walk daily through this journey of life. You guys are the best! How blessed I am!