Today we heard a beautiful story of encountering Christ.
Cricket is the sports in India and cricket players are like “gods. When I arrived in USA in 2010, it was the time of Cricket world cup and India was on the final game. That was “the news” in India, people were so excited and we were thinking all the world is watching India and cricket. As I arrived, I asked the friar who picked me up from the airport, may I know the cricket score. He said yes, let us stop on the way. He stopped at a cricket store where they sell cell phone connections. Then I knew that in America not many people know about the game cricket and not one television channel airs cricket game. This broke my heart. What was so close to my heart, what I thought the whole world knew was not matter in America. This exactly what the disciples felt when they started sharing the resurrection experience.
Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
One of them, named Cleopas,asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked. This question what things? broke their heart. They realized what matters to them was not a matter to others. And they learned a lesson that this is what Jesus feels when someone says, Jesus is not matter to him or his suffering, crusifixion, death and resurrection not a matter.
As they walked further, on their pilgrimage these disciples learned something else in the presence of this stranger that their faith was not deep enough to accept that happened in Jerusalem and they were running away from facing the reality of faith. They thought everything ended with crucifixion of Jesus. They were saddened by the things happened to Jesus. Their eyes were blind folded to see the mystery of faith and to understand risen lord or resurrection.
We read in the scripture, these two disciples were going from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
According to the readings Emmaus is a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. It says Emmaus is 7 miles away from Jerusalem but archeologist couldn’t identify were Emmaus is. We do not know where Emmaus is. Emmaus, therefore is a symbolic place; a place of crisis of faith. They were going from Jerusalem ( A place of God’s presence) to Emmaus( a place crisis of faith). It means they were taking a wrong way in the life of faith.
Who has not experienced in life a moment like this?" “Sometimes our faith enters into a crisis because of negative experiences and makes us feel abandoned and betrayed by the Lord.
Today we are also witnessing many people are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, some of them expressing serious doubts about teaching of the church, some due to scandalous behavior of the clergy, some of them left to Emmaus thinking God abandoned them when they had a crisis. We might have travelled from Emmaus or may be right now we are feeling we are on the way to Emmaus.
After the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, some personal letters were made public in a book. In one of her letters, she wrote an undated address to Jesus, "Where is my Faith - even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness - My God - how painful is this unknown pain - I have no Faith." This letters are shock to many but this was her road to Emmaus. We know she survived her faith by her love for Jesus, scripture and Eucharist. The story of Emmaus suggests that it is possible to encounter the risen Jesus "still today".
On the way two things help them; Scripture and Eucharist. We read, "So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. In this crisis they knew that they need more Jesus in their life and learn to trust him.
Dear brothers and sisters, the road to Emmaus is a symbol of our journey of faith, in our life time, we may take wrong way of faith, we may have crisis: there are two indispensable elements that Jesus has given to us: the Scriptures and the Eucharist to meet the Lord.
Pope Benedict says, for these two disciples the road to Emmaus becomes the way of a purification and maturation of our belief in God: the encounter with the risen Christ gives us a deeper faith. In other words our life crisis are to help us to grow in faith.
We may face or facing Emmaus experience in our lives we do not need to be stressed out, Jesus can help us. We may not get an answer from human wisdom but Jesus can help us through scripture and Eucharist.
Pope Benedict says, "Still today, Jesus speaks to us in the Scripture; still today Jesus gives us his Body and his Blood.
Pope Francis says, "This Jesus, he is the Risen Traveller that journeys with us. And Jesus is here today, he is here among us. He is here in his word, is here on the altar, journeying with us,”
Fr. John Pozhathuparambil