3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER
Acts 2: 14, 22 – 33; Ps 16; 1 Peter 1: 17 – 21; Luke 24: 13 – 35
In his Gospel St. Mark recounts: “…He (the Lord) appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.” (Mk 16: 11) Obviously, St. Luke, not satisfied with this brief account, did some research and has graced us with an extremely full and enriching account of a very personal encounter of the Risen Lord and two disciples.
Cleophas and his companion – some believe this was his wife (there was a woman, Mary of Cleopas, who stood at the cross)- they were extremely distraught. Having put their faith in Jesus they had great expectations as did many others: “We were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel” and that hope died as Jesus expired on the cross. He had promised so much, had spoken in a way that captured them and it had all come to nothing. His enemies had had their way, their victory was sweet. To them and others He was a great failure.
Their journey of seven miles to Emmaus is more than geography – it expresses their mood for they were travelling into the sunset, into growing darkness – one might say from darkness to greater darkness. Their grief, their poverty was great, overwhelming but the Lord hears the cry of the poor and could it not be said, their profound grief and heartfelt disappointment drew Him to them?
Not recognized, Jesus, in His great mercy, walks with them, listens and then with merciful patience gives them His time generously. In His passion to bring them to truth, His walking with them takes on another meaning for He walks them through the Sacred Scriptures. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets He interpreted for them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures.” Notice: the word “all” – it was not a quick response, nor a couple verses but a lengthy disclosure of His identity – a sacred act of revelation, so personal, so gracious and so very penetrating.
When they finally recognized Him and He disappeared, they gave voice to their experience; “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” He interpreted with passion and they received that passion – a fire of great emotion. He led them from familiarity – they had heard those Scriptures before – to wonder, to deeper hearing – and the graced experience of desire for more.
What the Lord did for Cleophas and companion is a teaching about our life as monks but also, on the life of anyone who seeks to follow the Lord Jesus by walking in and into His Sacred Word. It is clear that Jesus, The Word, must interpret the Word for us, must lead us into truth. Left to ourselves we can only journey into darkness, into what is very human and very limited and given that, we can lose our way!
The Lord desires to fill us with wonder – with an openness, a yearning for Him. On Tuesday last the reading at Vigils was a prayer to St. Mary Magdalene by St. Anselm. St. Anselm poses some questions to the Lord: “Have You put off compassion now that You have put on in-corruption? Did you let go of goodness when You laid hold of immortality? Let it not be so, Lord, You will not despise us mortals now that you made Yourself immortal, for you made Yourself mortal in order to give us immortality. And so it is for love’s sake…”
With perfect compassion and infinite goodness the Risen Lord, the Word, by His Word never ceases to walk with us into immortality, into that Life where we will abide face to face with God without end.