CALL TO PRAYER
When the disciples lost their friend, Jesus, they felt abandoned. They did not understand how to move forward. In other words, they had no hope. They meet a stranger who brings the hope back to them. Reflecting on the experience of meeting Christ again, one of the apostles asks, “Were not our hearts burning when we heard him speak?” Hope is a conviction; it leaves us with burning hearts. God gives us the gift of hope, dwelling within us. In the reflection today, remember this phrase, “Were not our hearts burning?” There are prophets among us every day who ignite the fire within us as God works through them.
Let us begin with the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God of all people, your Son brought hope to the world. Jesus showed us that God’s love is inclusive and there for everyone. Help us to see this hope alive in our world today. When we feel defeated by the darkness that humanity can inflict upon the world, help us to remember that hope dwells within us, through the limitless love of our God. Amen.
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke. (Luke 24: 28-32)
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Upon arriving at Emmaus, the disciples welcome the stranger, who has now become the companion on the journey, to stay and spend the night with them. This scripture passage is about two disappointed, grief-stricken disciples walking to Emmaus. The death of Jesus, his humiliating crucifixion and his burial in a cold grave meant that something in them had died as well. They seem to have no curiosity left anymore to look carefully into the stranger’s face, and their grief is so deep that their eyes look blankly out from tired faces; “Stay with us.” With hope emptied and drained from them, they decided to stop and rest, to see whether a different place would ease the pain. This is a story that starts with the slow steps of the depressed and cast down, but it ends with the excited disciples running of the redeemed, and the joy of finding life transformed.
This story can speak to us when we feel that we are not on a positive journey forward when both justice and peace seem far away, and when we feel that we are simply retreating or walking slowly into a future that we dread or fear. This story speaks to those who might think they have no energy for anything as positive as a pilgrimage at all, and whom God comes to meet as they struggle to put one foot in front of another. It is a story that is very honest about feelings of hopelessness and loss, but also about how God comes to find us in those places. It shows how God walks beside us and can transform even the deepest bereavement and loss into a journey of hope. This is a story that invites those who are deep in sorrow to walk in hope again. This story speaks powerfully and movingly to grief and loss, and it offers hope for the future to those who think that hope belongs only in the past. The accompaniment of Jesus in our own lives can hold us through times of loss and discouragement.
As we follow the way of Jesus who makes sense of our wonderings and our wanderings, our eyes and our hearts can recognize Him in scripture, in our lives, in each other, and when we break bread together. Jesus revealed His identity and presence to the two disciples when Jesus shared a sacred meal with them. Jesus takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them. It is at this moment, as the scriptures have been explained to the disciples that their hearts burn! They are transformed and they realize their companion is the Risen
Jesus! They are filled with hope and joy! This is what we experience during Mass – the opening of the Scriptures and the sharing of the sacred meal of communion. We too can be nourished by Jesus, the living bread. As believers, we are sustained by faith in Jesus that burns within our hearts. Jesus is the Bread of Life, the food that nourishes, the presence that comforts, the truth that lights the way. Remembering the acts of faith through which God continues to come to us, it restores us and renews our hope. Jesus, stay with us; live in us! (K. Harkin and B. Dunn, Adapted from Searching for Faith, Greg Dues.)
Take a moment to reflect on a time in your life when you feel you had lost hope… Who or what comforted you? What gave you the strength to keep moving forward?
God of love, we thank you for the gifts that you give so freely. Help us to fully embrace the gift of hope that is within us, and strengthen us to bring this hope to others. We make our prayer through your Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“In a world which ignores the human thirst for God, we are called to share the living waters of our faith.” This Moment of Promise, 1989