The Gospel account we hear today is one of the most beautiful post-Resurrection stories recorded for us. The journey of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is a story about the heart. As they were heading home, the two were engaged in a conversation about Jesus. Just as we can’t stop talking about a loved one who has just died, so they could not stop conversing about Jesus. He had filled their lives with meaning, hope, and joy. And now that he was dead they were devastated by his absence.
As they set out on that journey their hearts were cold and empty, heavy with sorrow, wounded by disappointment, and numb with grief. They had firmly believed that Jesus was the Messiah but their hopes turned to despair. They could not accept a suffering, crucified Messiah. Impossible! Unthinkable!!!
But then Jesus joins them on the journey and began to open their minds to the idea of a suffering Messiah. Breaking open the sacred texts that referred to him, Jesus’ words filled them with light and warmth and began to sink into their dark, cold hearts. By the time he had revealed himself to them in the Breaking of the Bread, they were transformed. Filled with hope they rushed back to the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Even though the night was dark, their hearts were bright.
What was it that happened to them? What did Jesus do for them? He certainly illuminated their minds. But he did something better. Jesus set their hearts on fire, as they said, “Were not our hearts burning as he spoke to us on the way?”
Faith is concerned with the mind in so far as it has to do with truths, dogmas, doctrines and creeds. But it is even more concerned with the heart. It consists in a relationship of love with God who first loved us. Without this, faith would be like a fireplace without a fire!
What was the main thing that the two disciples experienced on the road to Emmaus? It was the conviction that Jesus loved them. That is what made their hearts burn. The Emmaus story reminds us that, as disciples, we are called to walk with others, be present to them, listen to them. As Pope Francis has shown us and reminded us, we are to meet people where they are at and walk with them on the journey.
– Fr. Dennis, April 30, 2017