The Happy Priest: Easter, Emmaus and the Gift of Peace
At times we all feel like the disciples of Emmaus.
"The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread" (Luke 24: 35).
The disciples of Emmaus were devastated by the death of Jesus. They had come to the conclusion that the new way of life that Jesus has started was finished. The devastation caused powerful negative feelings to cloud their ability to reason and therefore, they could no longer see clearly. A deep feeling of discouragement crushed them. Frustrated and disheartened, they left Jerusalem.
As the two disciples were walking back to Emmaus, the risen Jesus appears to them. Their minds and hearts clouded by overpowering negative emotions did not allow them to recognize Jesus.
How many times, like the disciples of Emmaus, when tragedy and tribulations occur in our lives, are we so overwhelmed by negative emotions that we are unable to see that Jesus is by our side? We must understand that even in the darkest moments, even though we may be engulfed by irrational feelings, Jesus is there. He knows what we are going through. His hand is still there to lift us up precisely because he is risen and not dead.
At times we all feel like the disciples of Emmaus.
My dear friends, many times we do not recognize that Jesus is with us because we seek consolations in the things of this world. We escape from sadness by seeking comfort in over eating, excessive entertainment, too much work and even sometimes in drugs, alcohol, and illicit pleasures. The overpowering force of emotions are only repressed by these forms of escapes and we forget that the only one who can heal us is the one who has risen from the dead; i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before their encounter with Jesus they were downcast and overpowered by the weight of their negative emotions that sapped all of their vitality. Once they experience the risen Jesus through the Eucharist, their emotions are healed, vitality returns, and they energetically return to Jerusalem to tell the Apostles that he has truly risen.
"While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you'" (Luke 24: 36).
The reality of the risen Lord fills us with profound peace. We must never be discouraged. He is truly with us. With Jesus, we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise. We enter into a new relationship with God when we really believe that God is as Jesus told us that he is. We become absolutely sure of his love. We become absolutely convinced that he is above all else a redeeming God. The fear of suffering and death vanishes, for suffering and death means going to the one God who is the awesome God of love. In reality, our life long journey is a journey to the eternal Easter in heaven.
When we truly believe, we enter into a new relationship with life itself. When we make Jesus our way of life, life becomes new. Life is clad with a new loveliness, a new light and a new strength. When we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we develop a personal relationship with him through prayer, the Eucharist, and frequent Confession, we realize that life does not end, it changes, and it goes from incompletion to completion, from imperfection to perfection, from time to eternity.
When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled with sin; we are freed from the loneliness of a life without meaning. When we walk with Jesus and follow his way, life becomes so powerful that it cannot die but must find in death the transition to a higher life.
"Then he said to them, 'Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have'. And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, 'Have you anything to eat? They gave ...
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