My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We continue in our Easter journey, walking with Jesus in these days after his Resurrection.
In our readings today, we hear of the beautiful hope that we have in Jesus.
St. Peter tells us in the first reading: “But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.”
God will not let us perish! This is our hope and this is our faith.
We are in still facing challenging, even after all these weeks. There are still many people dying from the coronavirus and there is still so much fear and uncertainty.
We know that God’s love is stronger than death. We know this — because as we celebrate in this Easter season — God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead and given him glory.
And we know that Jesus goes with us, that he hears our cries and answers our prayers. This is the promise of today’s beautiful passage from the Gospel, the Easter story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I think we all feel the same way that those disciples felt. Things seem dark, we are downcast and disappointed, it is hard for us to understand what has been happening all around us.
But in our sadness and confusion, Jesus draws near to walk with us, just as he does with these disciples in the Gospel. He comes to be our companion, to accompany us on our journey.
What is interesting to notice is the humility of Jesus. He draws near to these disciples today — and they could not recognize him, even though they had been his followers for a long time.
Jesus comes to all us, even if we cannot recognize him. Every soul means so much to Jesus! He draws near to everyone who believes in him, and he will not abandon any of us.
We need to know this and believe this — especially in this difficult moment when we are tempted to doubt and despair! Jesus is with us! We must always keep this hope, this confidence!
Even if the events of our lives prevent us from recognizing him — Jesus is by our side, going with us on our journey. And he will open our eyes to know his love, just as he did for those disciples at Emmaus.
Jesus comes to us in our disappointment, and so we need to welcome him and enter into dialogue with him, just as those disciples did. We can tell him our troubles and sorrows, all the deepest worries and longings in our hearts. And as those disciples did, we need to open our hearts and let him speak to us and teach us.
In this moment, my brothers and sisters, I believe Jesus is calling us to encounter him in new ways — in the Scriptures, and in “the breaking of the bread.”
Jesus answers the despair of those disciples at Emmaus by opening up the sacred Scriptures.
We need to be looking for answers and seeking meaning in the Word of God. As Jesus taught those disciples, we need to take up the Gospels and try to understand what is going on in the world and in our lives — in the light of his suffering and his rising from the dead.2
Then, the disciples on the road to Emmaus beg Jesus to stay with them. We heard their prayer: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
And Jesus stays.
And he stays with us, too, my brothers and sisters. Even now, in this time when we feel like the night is coming and we cannot see what the morning will be like. Even now, Jesus stays.
And as he did on that Easter night at Emmaus, Jesus invites us to be at table with him. With us, too, he takes bread in his sacred hands and says the blessing, he breaks the bread, and he give it to us.
Our Lord’s love for us is revealed in the sacramental signs of bread and wine.
He makes himself known to us in the breaking of the bread — even now, when we are hurting because our churches are forced to be closed, and we cannot receive him materially in the Eucharistic Sacrament.
Brothers and sisters, I can tell you I share your loss. I feel our separation very deeply. I am waiting for that day when we can gather together once again to celebrate the Holy Mass at his holy altar and we all can receive Holy Communion.
But Jesus is not gone, he is not withdrawn from us. He is closer to us than ever! He knows that we love him more than anything in the world! He knows how much we long to be with him.
And we can receive Him spiritually praying many times every day an Act of Spiritual Communion.
God is purifying us through this pandemic. He is testing our faith and making us stronger.
He is calling us, during this challenging time, just as he called those disciples at Emmaus, to “set out at once,” and to bring a message of hope to our neighbors and loved ones.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, as we continue to reflect on the joy of the resurrection, let us pray to him today to stay with us. To be our light in this darkness. To open the Scriptures to us, and to come to us spiritually with his Eucharistic presence and to make the fire of his love burn within our hearts.
And let us ask Mary, the Mother of God and our mother, to help us to never stop praying and never lose heart!3 May she help us to rejoice in the hope of the resurrection and life everlasting.
1. Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-23; Ps. 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Pet. 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35.