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(Part 176)


April 24, 2019
Today’s gospel: Luke 24:13-35

The encounter of two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus tells us about two crucial aspects of our life of faith, by which we get to meet and know Christ. It is not enough that we are Christians, as we see that there are many lapsed or cultural Catholics, and many who do not really relate to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

The first is the Bible. This is the very word of God. We are to read it, meditate on it, study it, and base our lives on it. Unfortunately, many lay Catholics do not really get into the Bible. How can we truly know Christ if we do not read the word of God? The whole Bible is about the salvific work of God, centered on the life and ministry of Jesus. It is Jesus himself speaking to us about the plan and work of God in the lives of His people. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” (v.27).

The word of God is a two-edged sword that cuts through our very being. Its words are transformative and empowering. The Bible is our guide, instruction and inspiration. It is the very wisdom of God. It is what can set our hearts on fire with zeal for Christ and his work. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (v.32).

We must read the Bible each and every day, with appropriate meditation on what we have read. We must take time to study it. St Jerome says that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. So how can we be for Christ and do the work of Christ if we do not really know what is in the Bible, which is God’s instruction manual?

The second crucial aspect of our life of faith is the Eucharist. This is the celebration of the central aspect of our faith, the sacrificial offering of Jesus on the cross, which gave us our salvation. It is also the very unique instance when we receive the very body and blood of Jesus, without which we do not have life within us. But many lay Catholics do not go regularly to Sunday Mass. So they are like the walking dead.

Not only that, how can they really know Jesus, when he is “made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (v.35b)? Many Catholics do not know Jesus and have not truly encountered the risen Lord. They go about the motions of being Christians but without the essence of it. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were with Jesus but did not recognize him. They only recognized him when, “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” (v.30-31a).

Now it is not just going to Mass to fulfill an obligation. It is going to Jesus each and every week, recounting and commemorating his sacrifice on the cross, and being continually formed in the faith. Among the crucial elements are the following

  • Confession of sin, both of commission and omission.
  • Being reminded that we are to forgive others if we expect to be forgiven by God.
    Imploring the mercy of God.
  • Receiving the very body and blood of Jesus. How awesome is that?!
  • Extending the peace of Christ to all, especially to brethren in Christ.
  • Being sent off at the end of Mass to go and do God’s work.

Imagine going to Jesus each and every week, being continually reminded of who we are to be and what we are to do? That is the pathway to holiness. If we truly understand what is happening during the Eucharistic celebration, and if we participate fervently, we cannot not change for the better. The fullness of God’s grace is poured out on us.

So in both the Bible and the Eucharist, we get to really know Jesus. God has offered us these two great gifts for our Christian walk. As it was with the two disciples, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” (v.15b). These are the two ways by which we go beyond our personal opinions and directions, beyond our endless discussions and arguments, as we go about “conversing and debating.” (v.15a). With the Bible and the Eucharist, God is able to cut through the darkness, the veil that blinds us, by which “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (v.16).

Further, in these times of great darkness in the world, where we face daunting challenges and encounter suffering, when we see growing apostasy and persecution of Christians throughout the world, we can be easily discouraged. Many walk through life “looking downcast.” (v.17b). Some even give up on their faith. So we need to understand what the Christian life is all about, and what salvation is all about. “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (v.26). We are to walk in the way of Jesus. But we are assured that crucifixion and death are just a prelude to resurrection and glory.

Make use of what God has provided­the Bible and the Eucharist. Otherwise, we will remain in our own ignorance and hardness of heart. Then you might hear Jesus say to you, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” (v.25).

Rather, let us be the ones to say, “The Lord has truly been raised” (v.34a).

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