Some years ago I was preparing a woman for her baptism. When she started coming to church she didn’t know “our Catholic good manners” yet. One Sunday I was preaching and after I said that Christ has got power to change our lives, she yelled from her seat: “Good on you Father. That’s very true. Jesus does that.” There was a dead silence in the church. I said to myself: “Nobody has trained me how to react in this situation.” And very silly I said: “Thank you. Very kind of you to agree with me.” After the Mass some people came up to me and said: “We are so sorry for what that woman put you through.” However by then I had recovered from the original shock and I was able to say something more constructive. I said: “The Holy Spirit has shown us how we should take homilies. It should be something that affects us. We cannot be immune to that.”
The two disciples from the Gospel were affected by what happened to Jesus on Good Friday and how Jesus’ death ruined their hopes. Why were they running away from the city we are so keen on visiting? Because Jerusalem became a painful memory to them. It wasn’t only Jesus who died on the cross, their hopes, dreams and expectations died there too.
Let just think about some memories we have that can be called our Jerusalem, some painful memories. The places where we got hurt physically, spiritually or emotionally, the people who betrayed or abandoned us, situations when we failed, when our true face appeared, the face we wouldn’t anybody to see. That’s what Jerusalem meant to the two disciples when they left it. All these memories will hunt you down unless you meet the Risen Lord.
What happens when you meet the Lord: “their eyes were opened.” It means that somebody opened their eyes. They didn’t do it themselves. Who did it? The Risen Lord. When we listen to the Scriptures it isn’t about coming to some reasonable conclusions that can convince us but it is about Christ opening our eyes to see more than can be seen.
That’s why it is important to tell Jesus about our fears, disappointments and hurts. He doesn’t need to be informed but we need to be transformed in our thinking to be given the grace which happened to the disciple at Emmaus. The Gospel says that after Jesus became invisible they “set out and returned to Jerusalem.” St Luke uses a much stronger verb then “set up”, he says that the disciples anastantes. They were risen. What happened to Jesus on Easter Sunday morning is now happening to them. It is more than that they simply got up from their seats and started walking to Jerusalem. After the encounter with the Lord a change happened in them. They are even more eager to get to Jerusalem than we are. The place doesn’t have painful connotations any more but becomes the space where the glory of God is revealed. Good Friday is now seen by them as the gate to Easter Sunday, to the Resurrection.
In the morning of Easter Sunday Jesus rose from the dead. In the evening of the same Easter Sunday two of his disciples are raised to new life. They are not fugitives, runaways any more, they are the first fruits of Jesus’ Resurrection. As you watch them going back to Jerusalem remember that it is what the Risen Lord wants to do to you.
I must admit I don’t have any tickets to take you to Jerusalem, to be honest I don’t have a ticket to take myself there, however this Word of God can take you to your Jerusalem you have been running away from. Have faith and allow Jesus to open your eyes and to raise you up today. Don’t wait any more time. It is high time to be raised to new life with the Lord.