Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognized him at the breaking of bread.
The above passage is from the twenty-fourth chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel and describes how the disciples returning to Emmaus encountered the Risen Christ. For sure, this is a time in our history when we might very well relate to these disciples who were discouraged as they left the City of Jerusalem and were returning to their homes in Emmaus. Our friends’ eyes were opened only after Jesus taught scriptures and then proceeded with the blessing, the breaking, and the sharing of bread.
But there is one more element to the beautiful and essential ending of this story. It’s found in the disciples’ personal response to this awakening; that is, when they actually get up and return to Jerusalem to proclaim this good news. Like all of the encounters that the disciples had with the Risen Christ, this one mandates a personal response. Otherwise, it may risk being a fruitless encounter with Jesus.
Over and over again we see this critical pattern for what we refer to as evangelization (sharing our personal encounter with Christ who is the Good News). We see it with Mary Magdalene who serves as an apostle to the Apostles on that morning she encountered Jesus in the garden. We see it when the Apostles encountered Jesus in the Upper Room. And when Jesus returned to assure Thomas that it’s really Him. These accounts, along with our friends from Emmaus, cannot – will not – keep this good news to themselves. They go and proclaim it! This is at the very heart of evangelization. They can’t keep it to themselves!
During the past two weeks, I’ve had the privilege of parishioners sharing their own Easter stories and how they are encountering the Risen Christ during our current pandemic. They share how Jesus is still recognized today in the proclamation of sacred scripture. How the encounter is strengthened through song, prayer, and meal. Whether within a home or a virtual gathering.
Regardless of how we are handling ourselves during this crisis, I pray that we each continue to be strengthened in heart and spirit through the proclamation of our liturgical readings, our prayerful fellowship, and through our Spiritual Communions. After all, evangelization is only possible if we are able to recognize the Risen Lord. And we can only recognize Him if we know and love Him. And this is only possible by spending time with Him through sacred scripture, prayer, and holy fellowship.
Peace be with you!