Today we come to my favorite passage in the gospels. It occurs in the last chapter of the gospel according to Saint Luke. I have always thought that if I could have been present at any moment in the life of Jesus, either before or after his resurrection, it would be that one. We all know the story: two of our Lord’s disciples are returning from Jerusalem to their own homes, evidently in the village of Emmaus. They are deeply disappointed and saddened because they thought that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, and now all their hopes and joy have been destroyed because his enemies were able to capture him and kill him. So much for their messianic dreams and faith! Then a stranger catches up with them, going the same way. They begin to talk; he sees that they are dejected, and they admit that they hoped Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, but then, the beautiful bubble burst. He hears them out, and then begins to speak. “How foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets said! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and thus enter into his glory?” They listened in fascination! He seemed to know what he was talking about. It made sense.
Their previous delight over Jesus, his preaching, his miracles, his marvelous personality, came rushing back into their minds and hearts. They came to the town to which they were going, but he seemed to be going farther on. And they said to him one of the most touching things addressed to our divine Lord in all of scripture. They said, “Stay with us. It’s getting dark and the day is nearly over.” He went with them for supper. They sat at table, he blessed and broke bread and gave it to them. And in that wonderful moment, they recognized him. It was Jesus himself! Alive, as fascinating as ever; full of truth. And before they could even embrace him or ask him what it was like to be dead and now to be alive again, he vanished from their sight. And now they say something else very touching, very beautiful. “Weren’t our hearts BURNING within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” This time there would be no disappointments, no sorrow, no dashed hopes or destroyed faith. They rushed back to Jerusalem where they met with the apostles and each told the other their experiences of that day—that first Easter Sunday. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: Father Brown composed this message some years ago. Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.