Easter 3A - Disciples on Emmaus Journey


Gospel text : Luke 24:13-35
emmaus


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meal at emmausMichel de Verteuil
General comments

It is Easter morning, and Jesus leads the two disciples along the slow, painful journey to wisdom. God is inviting us to remember with gratitude times when he led us along a similar journey to the stage where we understood what was happening in our lives. We celebrate the teachers who did for us what Jesus did for the two disciples.
The story unfolds in several stages:
– Verses 13 to 16 : The disciples walk aimlessly along, unable to make sense of the events of Good Friday. Jesus the teacher is discreet, patient and content to walk silently alongside them.
– Verses 18 to 24 : Jesus invites them to tell their story, a long one, with many ups and downs, great hopes all dashed. Jesus listens in respectful silence. What a teacher!
– Verses 25 to 27 : Jesus’ long silence bears rich fruit – as always happens with great teachers. Now fully in tune with the experience of the disciples, he takes up the dialogue, showing that the teaching of the scriptures is not complete until it is experienced in the reality of their lives. As he teaches, what had seemed senseless to the disciples now appears not only meaningful, but in accordance with age-old laws of life.
– Verses 28 to 32 : What Jesus taught them on the road now becomes a reality in the context of a community meal.
– Verses 33 to 35 : This is a crucial part of the story: as a result of the encounter with Jesus and the wisdom they have gained, the disciples are able to return to their community with a new heart.
Prayer Reflection
discouragementLord, there have been times when we were totally discouraged.  We walked aimlessly along the road, our faces downcast,
as we remembered the sad events of previous days:
– a project which we thought would change our country had failed;
– we were disappointed in a relationship that had seemed destined to fulfil all our longing;
– a Church community we had hoped would be a true body of Christ was torn apart by conflict.
Then, quite suddenly, unexpectedly, you sent your son Jesus to walk with us,
even though we did not recognise him.
He came in the guise of a friend, a spiritual guide, a grandparent,
who listened in silence as we told our story once more.
Then, when the moment was right,
that Jesus whom you sent showed us how foolish we were,
how slow to believe the full message of the prophets;
he explained the passages throughout the scriptures that were about ourselves
while we listened in silence, our hearts burning within us.
We remember with gratitude how we were able to set out that  instant and return to Jerusalem.
Lord, our apostles are walking the road, their faces downcast,  unable to make sense of their  lives.
Forgive us, Church people, that we come arrogantly to them
labeling them materialistic, or unbelievers, or atheists,
and telling them our own stories.
Help us rather to be like Jesus,
to walk alongside them so discreetly they don’t even recognize who we are;
to ask them what matters they are discussing as they walk along;
to invite them to relate their stories, even if they are impatient with our questions;
to listen respectfully for as long as their stories last.
How else will we be able to explain the scriptures at work in their lives
so that they can return to Jerusalem, their hearts burning within them?
Lord, send us bible teachers like Jesus
who will make our hearts burn within us as they talk to us on the road
and, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets,
explain the passages throughout the scriptures that are about ourselves.
Last S
We thank you for those special Eucharists that we experience from time to time,
when we recognise your presence in the breaking of bread
and feel no need to linger there,
but return to the Jerusalem of our daily occupations,
our hearts burning within us.
Lord, we would prefer to grow in wisdom quickly and painlessly
by taking courses or reading many books.
But there is no way to wisdom
except by going through times when we cannot understand what has happened to us;
only when we have told our story many times over,
experiencing again and again how senseless it is
will we reach down into the roots of our traditions and discover with surprise
that what we have gone through is nothing new
but the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.
Thanks  Lord, we get to know you through teachers and preachers,
and we thank you for them.
But it is only in a community of sharing and trust
that we can experience your presence in the world.
How true it is that we recognise you in the breaking of bread.
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Thomas O’Loughlin Food at EmmausI
ntroduction to the celebration
The Eucharistic assembly has a very definite identity: those who have become one in the risen Christ through baptism, now celebrate that holy union with him in sharing a single loaf and cup — yet this is not how most people think of what they are doing on Sunday morning.

Homily notes
There is a very strong element of self-reference in today’s gospel which carries on into the homily. Here we are now gathered for the Eucharist (which we understand as the weekly encounter of our community with the Risen Lord which takes place in the breaking and sharing of a loaf) reading an early Christian text (the Emmaus story) intended by its author to help his audience understand their gathering for the Eucharist by telling a story of another Sunday gathering around a loaf, except that that gathering at Emmaus is presented as the archetype and explanation of all later gatherings. Luke supposes that all his readers already have this Sunday gathering as part of their practical experience — in our terms, they take ‘going to Sunday Mass’ as a normal part Christian life — and then he wants to interpret that ritual using the medium of an ‘historical’ example, his logic being ‘look what happened on the first Sunday, therefore that is what is happening now today.’
Mass todaySo the gospel poses us who are actually gathered for the Eucharist with a number of questions to see have we appropriated Luke’s vision of what our eucharistic assembly should be:
Do we see our weekly meeting as a moment when we hear the Word?
Do we see our gathering as gathered around the Lord’s table? Do we see our eating together as having a share in the Lord’s body?
Do we see our group as one Christian body (a unity formed from individual people) symbolised in the one loaf (a unity from individual grains)?
Do we see this as meeting with the Risen Jesus?
Do we see this as empowering us to go from this meal to proclaim the good news?
HostThese are the question the Emmaus story poses to us at our gathering — they are probably different questions from those it posed to those who were its initial audience — but in answering them we come not only to a deeper appreciation of today’s gospel, but to a realisation of its object: a deeper appreciation of the Sunday Eucharist.
It would be an interesting exercise to pose the above questions as one set of poles on a questionnaire scale. The opposite poles would be something like ‘I get communion each week at Mass because it makes me holy.’ If we compared the Emmaus vision of the Eucharist with the actual perceptions of those who are celebrating with us, we might be rather shocked at the task of evangelisation facing us! One loaf and one cup shared has become the distribution of pre-cut ready-made individualistic roundels — and the cup which we say all should drink from is reserved to the just one person — that hardly speak at all as sacramental signs, much less challenge us to recognise our unity in Christ. Lastly, we might ask ourselves as priests whether we see ourselves as those who preside over the community’s breaking of the loaf or those who ‘say Mass “with a congregation”? And whether from the way we act, anyone might see a difference.
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John Litteton
Gospel Reflection
Walking with JesusThe story about the two disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus and how they recognised him at ‘the breaking of the bread’ (Lk 24:35) teaches us much about the Eucharist and, in particular, the way in which it provides food for eternal life.
Food satisfies our physical hunger. However, sharing a meal also satisfies a greater hunger, the hunger for the deeper human need of companionship. Sharing a meal facilitates interpersonal exchange and, in so doing, promotes important human values. It symbolises and brings about unity among people.
Similarly, the Eucharist provides food and deeper nourishment for our spiritual lives because it is the Bread of Life. Throughout the gospels we read that Jesus enjoyed gatherings and meals. He often sought companionship with other people, that resulted in him sharing something of himself and, ultimately, at the Last Supper, all of himself, with them. He used such occasions to teach the truth about himself.
The love and generosity of Jesus in responding to the confusion and hopelessness of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and his teaching them the fuller meaning of his actions, offer us an insight into his own total self-giving for others at the Last Supper and in his suffering and death.
do this inJesus wants his followers to imitate his example. The challenging question for all of us who are Jesus’ disciples is: Do we live in memory of him when we gather to share the Eucharist? In other words, how do we remember all that he said and in what ways do we practise what he did? Just as Jesus gave his life for the life of the world, so we are being challenged to follow his example, while acknowledging that it can be extremely difficult to put the interests of other people before our own.
Therefore, the challenge of celebrating the Eucharist is: Can we respond to people as Jesus did? In effect, can we, in and through our own convictions and lifestyles that are nourished by the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Christ received when we celebrate the Eucharist, join with him in satisfying the spiritual hunger in other people’s lives? If we can, then we are living Eucharistic lives that flow from the selfless and self-giving life of Jesus Christ.
Meal times often degenerate into a hastily-eaten snack or a quick take-away. Similarly, the celebration of the Eucharist can become just another hastily-observed obligation or a meaningless ritual. But the Mass is much more than a meal.
So let us try to make meal times at home and our participation in the Eucharist a time of genuine sharing and enrichment. In doing so, we acknowledge our gratitude for Christ’s abiding presence and nourishment in the form of bread and wine that have become his Body and Blood providing us with food for eternal life.
For meditation
And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. (Lk 24:31)
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Fr Donal Neary, S.J
Hearts uplifted
I have met many people who found this story really helped at times when they were down, when there were disappointments in life, when they encountered illness and many of the crosses of life. They believed in him after he had vanished, having broken bread with them. He had accompanied them in a dark journey of life.
Jesus went to them – he did not await their visit. Somehow he knew that people of his ‘set’ were in darkness and maybe despair. This is the call of the church – to be with us in prayer, community and service always, and especially for what Pope Francis calls’ the peripheries of life’. Most of us spend some time there, and appreciate the help of love and faith.
Then they went to tell the story of how they were changed.Faith grows through sharing it. A father said, ‘At my child’s first communion, my faith became stronger’.
They told their story of Jesus in the here and now, sometimes reminiscing on what things were once like in Galilee. Every journey of life can be an Emmaus journey where we meet the Lord. Every altar can be the altar of Emmaus, and indeed every meal can be a time of friendship, care and nourishment for body and for soul.
Notice this week where the Lord is present in love, care, creation,
an uplift of joy, prayer and the Eucharist
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Lord, lift my hope and my faith in your presence as the disciples
found their hearts burning when they listened to you.
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From The Connections:
 
THE WORD:
Today’s Gospel begins on the afternoon of that miraculous Easter Sunday.  Having just completed the observance of the Passover Sabbath, two disciples of Jesus (one identified as Cleopas) are making the seven-mile trip to the village of Emmaus.  By identifying them as disciples, Luke is emphasizing that these two were more than just impartial observers of the events of Holy Week.
Luke writes that their exchange was “lively” – we can well imagine!  As well as anger at the great travesty of justice that had taken place, they must have felt emotionally shattered at what had befallen their revered Rabbi Jesus.  The two are suddenly joined by a stranger who asks the subject of their “lively” conversation.  The stranger then explains, to their astonishment, the meaning of each of the events of the past week.  When they reach the village, the two disciples ask the stranger to stay with them.  And, in the words from Luke’s Gospel that we have come to treasure, the two disciples “come to know (the Risen Christ) in the breaking of the bread.”


HOMILY POINTS:
Luke’s Easter night story parallels our own experience of the Eucharist:  We come to the Lord’s table feeling angry, hurt, despairing, alone – but at this table, coming to “know him in the breaking of the bread,” we can experience the peace and presence of the Risen Christ.
It has been said that true friendship begins when people share a memory.  Like the two disciples who recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread, we, too, are bound as a Church by the same memory of the Risen One.  In the word we hear together and the bread we share together, God's love is both remembered and relived, giving us hope and direction and meaning in the course of our individual journeys.
As the two disciples discover on their journey to Emmaus, Christ is alive and present in our midst in the love, charity and goodness we give and receive, in the sacrament of his body and blood, in moments of grace and prayer.
Like the disciples journeying to Emmaus, we are disciples journeying.  The journey reaches its zenith in the great Paschal journey from crucifixion to resurrection.  As the disciples traveling to Emmaus discover, the journey is not ended.  It continues through the wilderness and is marked by the cross.  But God is still very much present to us along the way.

 

A birthday in Emmaus
A young couple receives the wonderful news: they are pregnant.
But their joy soon becomes a nightmare.  Her severe morning sickness debilitates her; her doctor discovers the child is in distress and plans for the worst.  She is confined to bed for the duration of her pregnancy.
The dad-to-be is overwhelmed by it all.  Unable to offer any meaningful help to his wife or his child, he buries himself in everything but accomplishes little.
But along the way, their parents — gently and quietly — cover many of the day-to-day details; they check in regularly with encouragement and advice, allaying many of their fears.  Co-workers at his office take as many things as they can off his desk.  And, under the radar, members of their parish organize to provide supper a few nights a week.
And they manage.  After a long, painful, terrifying few months, they welcome their little girl, healthy and whole.  And, along the way, the new parents discover again how much they love each other and the beautiful little family they have created.
And they realize, too, what their love means to those around them.

We all have our Emmaus-like experiences of fear, confusion, dread, worry.  But along the way, Christ makes himself known in our midst in the loving support of family and friends, of our community and parish.  Christ travels with us on our own road to Emmaus; Christ is present in the broken bread of compassion we offer and receive from our fellow travelers.  Easter faith is to recognize the Risen One in our midst: in our wanting to understand, in our struggle to make things right, in our brokenness.  May our Easter celebration open our hearts and spirits to recognize Christ among us in every moment of our lives, in both the bright promising mornings and the dark terrifying nights. 

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ILLUSTRATIONS:
 From Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection:
1.     Bad news and good news:  
 
"I've got some good news and some bad news to tell you. Which would you like to hear first?" the farmer asked. "Why don't you tell me the bad news first?" the banker replied. "Okay," said the farmer, "With the bad drought and inflation and all, I won't be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest." "Well, that is pretty bad," said the banker. "It gets worse," said the farmer. "I also won't be able to pay anything on the loan for all that machinery I bought, not on the principal or interest." "Wow, is that ever bad!" the banker admitted. "It's worse than that," the farmer continued. "You remember I also borrowed to buy seed and fertilizer and  other  supplies.  Well,  I  can't  pay  anything  on  that  either,  principal  or interest." "That's awful," said the banker, "and that's enough! What's the good news?" "The good news," replied the farmer with a smile, "is that I intend to keep on doing business with you." [John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers), p. 71.] I don't know if that was good news for the banker or not. Two of the disciples of Jesus were on the road that leads to Emmaus. They were as low as that farmer because their Master had been crucified like a common thief. But now they’ve heard reports that their Master is not dead at all. Reliable sources have told them that he has appeared to some of their most trusted friends. Was he really alive? The disciples were troubled and afraid. Should they believe the good news or the bad?  And that's our dilemma, isn't it? DO WE BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OR THE BAD? The good news is that Christ is alive. The bad news is how little impact that event is having in the world today. 
2.     Broken dreams:  
Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton, in his book Horns and Halos in Human Nature, tells of one of the weirdest auctions in history. It was held in the city of Washington, D.C. It was an auction of designs, actually patent models of old  inventions that  did  not  make  it  in  the  marketplace. There  were  150,000 designs up for auction. There was an illuminated cat to scare away mice. There was a device to prevent snoring which consisted of a trumpet reaching from the mouth to the ear. One person designed a tube to reach from his mouth to his feet so that his breath would keep his feet warm as he slept. There was an adjustable pulpit which could be raised or lowered. You could hit a button and make the pulpit descend or ascend to dramatically illustrate a point. Obviously, at one time somebody had high hopes for each of those designs which did not make it. Some died in poverty, having spent all of their money trying to sell their dream. One hundred fifty thousand broken dreams! Is there anything sadder? Today’s gospel describes the shattered dreams of two of Jesus’ disciples. 
 
3.     Risen Lord in the train.   
On her first train trip, a little girl was put into an upper berth by her mother. The mother then assured her that Jesus would watch over her during the night.  As the lights were switched off the girl became alarmed and called out softly: "Mom, are you there?" “Yes dear,” her mother replied.  A little later the child called in a louder voice: “Daddy, are you also there?” “Yes”, was the reply.  After this had been repeated several times, one of the passengers lost patience and shouted: “We’re all here. Your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters and cousins, your uncles and aunts – all are here. Now go to sleep!”  There was silence for a while.  Then, in a hushed voice the child asked: "Mom, was that Jesus?” 
4.     The Risen Lord is watching:  
Up at the head table in the cafeteria, one of the nuns had placed a big bowl of bright red, fresh, juicy apples.  Beside the bowl, she placed a note which read, "Take only one.  Remember, Jesus is watching." At the other end of the table was a bowl full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven.  Beside the bowl was a little note scrawled in a child's handwriting which read, "Take all you want. Jesus is watching the apples!" 
5.     Where is God?  
A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous.  They were  always  getting  into  trouble,  and  their parents knew that, if any mischief occurred in their neighborhood, their sons were probably involved. The boys’ mother heard that a priest in the downtown parish had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The pastor agreed, but asked to see them individually. So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, and fixed the appointment of the older boy with the priest in the afternoon. The priest, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?” The boy’s mouth dropped open and he made no response. So the priest repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God!!?” Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the clergyman raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy’s face and bellowed, “WHERE IS GOD!?” The boy screamed and ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, “What happened?” The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, “We are in BIG trouble this time, Dave. God is missing - and they think WE did it!” 
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From Sermons.com  
A friend shared with me a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner. 
The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor.
The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years.
The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions. 
The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. 
The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: "You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!" 
That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to produce great people. There is nothing more powerful or more Christ-like than sacrificial love.
 The king could not see the value in the humble lady. He missed the significance of the teacher. Often we miss the value of those around us. I think it would surprise us to know how often we miss the presence of Christ just as Cleopas and his brother missed the significance of the stranger on the road to Emmaus.
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 How many of you here this morning remember "Stone Soup"? No, I don't mean the magazine. No, I don't mean the recipe.  
I mean the story. "Stone Soup" is an old folk-tale, told and re-told with slightly different details in dozens of countries and cultures. In case you've forgotten it is a fable that focuses on the ingenuity of some weary travelers who arrive at a small village with nothing. No food, no money, nothing. All they have is a large cooking pot. The travelers are met with suspicion and surliness everywhere they go. No doors are opened to them. No invitations of hospitality are extended.  
The travelers then build a fire in the commons of the village square. They fill their cauldron, their big pot with water and one large stone, and place it over the fire. They sit around the pot rubbing their hands in expectation, talking about their anticipation of a great delicacy - "stone soup."  
The villagers grow curious and one by one come out to ask the travelers what they are doing. Most importantly, what are they cooking that is exciting them so much? The travelers reply to each villager who approaches that the "stone soup" they are cooking is absolutely the most exquisite soup anyone could ever taste.  
But the best could be even better if it received just one more ingredient. To one villager they mention carrots. To another villager they suggest potatoes. To a third villager they muse that a big beef bone would add much to the mixture.  
 
As more villagers approach and more ingredients are suggested, the cauldron of "stone soup" gradually takes on the identity of a rich, thick stew - a stew capable of feeding all of those who contributed to its creation and then some. At the end of the story, all of the villagers and the travelers sit together on the commons and enjoy an unexpected and hearty meal together. 
"Stone Soup" is not a story about how to get a "free lunch." "Stone Soup" is a story about the transforming power of hospitality, but a reverse hospitality. It is the weary travelers with empty hands who invite the first wary villager to join them in their watery wares. It is the strangers who offered hospitality to the inhospitable hosts.  
"Stone soup" is the story of a gift of calories and community to a village that was too scared to share...
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Peace Is a Possibility 
Lucy of Peanuts cartoon fame, pictured with an air of discouragement, questions, "Do you think that life has any meaning when you have failed nine spelling tests in a row, and your teacher hates you?" While most likely for very different reasons, I rather suspect that most of us gathered this morning for worship have experienced our own times of despair, a time when it feels as if all of life is falling in upon us. Each of us has known times of anguish and despair, times when we have felt all alone, times of confusion and pain. 
John Wesley spoke of his experience of encountering the grace of God firsthand as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed - are these not indications of an Easter power and presence within us, the gift of the risen Christ's Spirit? Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed, are hearts ablaze with the promise of resurrection and new life, with the good news that fear and death do not have the final word, that love is stronger than hatred, that peace is indeed a possibility.

Joel D. Kline, Hearts Strangely Warmed
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 Living Generosity 
Is something missing from the current conversation happening in your church regarding stewardship, giving and generosity? Are you trying to guide your church towards a more whole-life perspective of generosity, but having difficulty finding materials to help you in that process? For this month only, we are offering a FREE VIDEO aimed at helping you start this conversation with your church.
For more information CLICK HERE.
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 Slow to Recognize Greatness
Karl Barth, one of the twentieth century's most famous theologians, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lived and lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on the streetcar and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired.
"Yes," said the tourist.
"Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth.
"Yes," he said, "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?"
Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning."
The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."  
That amuses me. That tourist was in the presence of the very person he most wanted to meet, but even with the most obvious clue, he never realized that the man with whom he was talking was the great man himself.  
It reminds me of Mary's reaction on Easter morning. In her grief, she thinks the man she is speaking to is the gardener. It is not, of course. Until he called her name she did not realize that she was speaking with the risen Christ. 
And, of course, it reminds me of that scene on the road to Emmaus, when later that same Easter day, two of the disciples walk for a while with the resurrected Jesus, and they, too, had no idea with whom they were conversing.
 King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com 
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 Recognizing at Last! 
In the ancient Greek myth The Odyssey we read the epic tale of Odysseus. Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought so bravely in the Trojan War. But, according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as the gods had decided to test Odysseus' true mettle through a series of trials. His journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the sirens' voices.

Meanwhile, back at his home, Odysseus' wife and family presume he must have died en route back from Troy. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrives back home at last. But instead of simply waltzing through the front door and crying out some Greek equivalent of, "Honey, I'm home!" Odysseus decides that he wants to determine if anything has changed during his long absence. Did his wife still love him? Had she been faithful? In order to find out, Odysseus disguises himself so as to approach his home looking like a stranger in need of temporary lodging.

The housekeeper, Euryclea, welcomes the apparent traveler and performs for him the then-standard practice of foot-washing. As she does so, Euryclea regales the stranger with anecdotes about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had also served as a nurse when he was young. She told the traveler about how long her master has been missing and she noted, too, that by then Odysseus would be about the same age and of about the same build as the man whose feet she was washing. Now when Odysseus had been a young boy, he was once gored by a wild boar, leaving a nasty scar on his leg. As Euryclea went about her servile task, suddenly her hand brushed against that old scar and instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master!

Recognition scenes like that have long exercised a strong pull on the human heart. Sometimes this can be used for comedic effect, as in any number of episodes on the old I Love Lucy show when Lucy would disguise herself so as to worm her way into one of her husband, Rickie's, shows. And you always waited eagerly for that moment when Desi Arnaz's eyes would widen right before he'd exclaim, "Luuucccy!" But such shocks of recognition are also the stuff of high drama, as in The Odyssey and any number of plays, novels, and films across the centuries. And, of course, in also Luke 24.

Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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 From the Confessions of St. Augustine 
One of the greatest voices of the church was St. Augustine. He lived between the 4th and 5th centuries in Rome and was a Bishop. After Rome fell and faded into dust it was largely Augustine's writings that kept Christianity alive and made it the most influential movement the world had ever known. It is remarkable that between the 8th and 12th centuries his writings were more widely read than any other. And that was 400 to 700 years after his death.

But he was not always a saint. Before he was converted at age 29 he lived to fulfill every lust and pleasure. But Augustine had one great quality that saved his pitiful life - a praying mother. She never gave up on him until one day he stopped long enough to listen to the voices around him. Augustine had just heard a sermon by Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
We are told in public speaking and preaching classes not to read long quotes but I'm going to do it anyway and read something that Augustine wrote. These two paragraphs shaped the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. He is looking back on his conversion to Christianity and the convictions of his heart. Here's the quote: 

"One day, under deep conviction: I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out...So was I weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.

So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find... Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius (his friend) was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh...' No further would I read; nor needed I for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."

 
Adapted from St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine
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Abide With Us 
In the King James Version of the Bible, the invitation of the two travelers reads, "Abide with me; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent," words which were the inspiration for that beloved hymn, "Abide with me/Fast falls the eventide." The hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte, for 25 years the vicar of the parish at Devonshire, England. He was 54 years old, broken in health and saddened by dissensions in his congregation. On Sunday, September 4, 1847 he preached his farewell sermon and went home to rest. After tea in the afternoon, he retired to his study. In an hour or two, he rejoined his family, holding in his hand the manuscript of his immortal hymn. 
Despite what most think, Lyte's "eventide" has nothing to do with the end of the natural day but rather the end of life. "Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day/Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away." The words are about the faith that faces life and death fearlessly and triumphantly in the light of the cross and the empty tomb....East of Easter. Thus Lyte could conclude, "Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee/In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me." Vicar Lyte died three months later. 
David E. Leininger, East of Easter
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Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend. 
Albert Camus
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 Three Table Fellowships 
"The Scriptures speak of three kinds of table fellowship that Jesus keeps with his own: daily fellowship at table, the table fellowship of the Lord's Supper, and the final table fellowship in the kingdom of God. But in all three, the one thing that counts is that 'their eyes were opened, and they knew him.' 
"The fellowship of the table teaches Christians that here they still eat the perishable bread of the earthly pilgrimage. But if they share this bread with one another, they shall also one day receive the imperishable bread together in the Father's house."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954), 66.
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 The Resurrection Changes Everything 
There's a story about a young boy named Walter Elias. Born in the city, his parents one day moved out to the country to become farmers. Walter had a vivid imagination and the farm was the perfect place for a young boy and a wondering mind. One day in the apple orchard he was amazed when he saw sitting on a branch of one of the apple trees an owl. He just stood there and stared at the owl. He thought about what his father had told him about owls: owls always rested during the day because they hunted throughout the night. This owl was asleep. He also thought that this owl might make a great pet.

Being careful not to make any noises he stepped over sticks and leaves. The owl was in a deep sleep because it never heard Walter Elias walking toward it. Finally, standing under the owl, he reached up and grabbed the owl by the legs. Now, the events that followed are difficult to explain. Suddenly everything was utter chaos. The owl came to life. Walter's thoughts about keeping the bird as a pet were quickly forgotten. The air filled with wings, and feathers, and screaming. In the excitement Walter held the legs tighter. And in his panic, Walter Elias, still holding on to the owl, threw it to the ground and stomped it to death. After things calmed down, Walter looked at the now dead and bloody bird and began to cry. He ran back to the farm, obtained a shovel, and buried the owl in the orchard. 

At night he would dream of that owl. As the years passed he never got over what had happened that summer day. Deep down it affected him for the rest of his life. As an older man he said he never, ever killed anything again. Do you see it? Something significant happened after that event.
Something that Walter didn’t miss. Something which transformed Walter Elias, something that redeemed him from the pit of despair, something that resurrected him, something that made Walter Elias into someone who we all have experienced in some way. You see his name changed to Walt Disney who created Mickey Mouse, Goofy and all those wonderful cartoon animals.
*****
Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading we hear Peter preaching the first Christian sermon of the five recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter’s preaching and witness is a wonderful testimony to the resurrection of the Lord because of the awesome transformation that was wrought in Peter himself. This impulsive, bumbling, vacillating, frightened shaky man chosen to be the leader is completely transformed by the Spirit which now has taken possession of him. Peter is now courageous, fearless, single-minded, loyal and ready to suffer for the Master. What the Lord did for Peter he continues to do for all believers who are transformed and changed in the measure that they let the Lord take over their lives.

I never knew what things were like…..
An old novel tells the story of a wealthy woman who travelled the world over, visiting museums and art galleries, meeting people and viewing the sights. Soon she became completely bored. Then she met a man who had none of the world’s goods, but a great love of beauty and a sincere appreciation of it. In his company the world looked entirely different to her. At one point she told him, “I never knew what things were like until you taught me how to look at them”. In every love story there comes a point when the lover says that to the beloved. –Peter suggests a different way of looking at Christ to the Israelites confronted with the resurrection.
Harold Buetow in ‘God Still Speaks: Listen!’

The Gospel has one of the most beautiful stories of the post resurrection appearances of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. Firstly, the incident described tells us that the disciples were not the leaders but ordinary disciples. Perhaps the point being made is that Jesus can appear to any one whom he chooses to reveal himself to. The fact that Emmaus was not popular also tells us that God can reveal himself to us in the most insignificant of places, our hometown! Thirdly, the fact that Jesus joined them on the road is a forceful reminder that God comes to us often along the least expected paths that we travel along in life. Next, we are reminded that when Jesus joined them along the road they were not aware of who this stranger was though they let him join in the conversation. They shared all their disappointments about Jesus and the coming of the Messiah. What is happening between them and Jesus is a perfect model of prayer, with Jesus’ help they are able to open up their hearts and place all before Jesus. Jesus in turn patiently listens to them and starts explaining what had been written in the scriptures about him. In fact their way of coping with their disappointment was to withdraw from the company of the apostles and run away from Jerusalem. We are often tempted to run away rather than find strength in community. Next, we are told that as they came near to Emmaus Jesus walked ahead as if he was going on but they extended hospitality to Jesus and welcomed him to share their bread and board and their welcoming gesture was richly rewarded. They encountered Jesus. Do we realize that in being hospitable and welcoming to strangers we could be welcoming Christ? Further, the Gospel tells us that the disciples offered bread to Jesus who accepted it blessed it broke it and gave it back to them and it was then that they recognized Jesus. Any meal, every meal can be a sacred moment, when we genuinely share ourselves with others. When we break bread together, God is revealed to us! We are called to be companions along the Way! The last part of the episode tells us that immediately after Jesus disappeared they journeyed back to Jerusalem to share the good news and as they journeyed they recalled their earlier journey with Jesus, which they were now able to see in a different light. Incidentally, this reminds us that the scriptures should go hand in hand with the Eucharist. We understand life and scripture makes sense when we have shared our bread with others and received the bread broken for us.

“Go to Mass every Sunday… work in a soup kitchen”
Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee said in an interview in the magazine The Critic: “If younger people are having an identity problem as Catholics, I tell them to do two things: Go to Mass every Sunday and work in a soup kitchen. If one does those two things over a period of time, then something will happen to give one a truly Catholic identity. The altar and the marketplace-these two must be related to each other; when they are, one works better, and prays better.”
Anon

Were not our hearts burning?
There is a painting by a Dutch painter, Rembrandt, of Jesus sitting at the table with two of his disciples. Once, a guide was explaining the painting to some visitors to the museum where it was on display. He told them the story behind the picture as we read it in the gospel. In the group was a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Browne, whose only son had been recently killed in a car accident. They were still in a state of shock and had come to the museum that day merely in the hope that it might take their mind off their sorrow for a little while. As the guide started the story the Brownes were only half listening. However he told it in such a way that by the time he had finished they were captivated. Afterwards they approached the guide and complemented him. “We’ve heard that story before, but it never moved us till now. You told it with such feeling and conviction.” “There was a time when I told the story badly,” replied the guide. “What happened to change that?” the Brownes asked. “Three years ago,” the guide began, “my wife got cancer and died a slow agonizing death. I could see absolutely no meaning in her terrible suffering and untimely death. She was a good person. She didn’t deserve all this. I was heartbroken. It was as if the world had come to an end. Nevertheless, I was persuaded to go back to work here at the museum. So once again I found myself telling the story, only more mechanically than before. Then one day something clicked with me, and suddenly, I realized that the story was not just about those two forlorn disciples but about me too. Like the two disciples, I was going down a sad and lonely road. Even though I’m a believer, regrettably, up to this Jesus had been little more than a shadowy figure who lived only in the pages of the Gospels. But now he came alive for me. I felt his presence by my side, the presence of a friend who knew all about human suffering. It was as if at that moment my eyes were opened and I saw things differently. My heart began to burn within me. As I went on telling the story, a healing process was at work inside me. Even though at times I am still fragile, I had begun to hope and live again.” The Brownes were unable to hold back their tears. “Strange, they said, but as you told the story, we too felt our hearts burn within us.” They told him the story of the tragic death of their son. As they parted the Brownes said, “Thank you for what you did for us. You are a true story teller.”
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’

Finding Our Inheritance
There is a legend along the Rhine that on a dark and cold night a thinly clad, half starved man was toiling along one of its rugged paths. He looked with wistful eyes at the bright light streaming from the windows of the mansion, and listened to the sounds of feasting and strains of music. He had left the home of his youth in early life, and heard nothing from it for many years. He knew not that the magnificent property was his father’s and that he was the heir. Desperate he asked for shelter there. At its gate he found an old servant who discovered who he was. Instantly he was ushered into the gaiety. His robes were changed to those of the heir. He had found his heritage. And so the Christian is often ignorant of all that belongs to him as a son of God.
Anthony Castle in ‘More Quotes and Anecdotes’


Old Experience, new meaning Maude and Harry have been happily married for six years. It hasn’t been bliss all the way, but they’ve become the best of friends in their struggle to live a genuine life together with their two children. One evening Harry is having a drink with his old friend, John, who was best man at their wedding. As they exchange notes on married life Harry tells John how he has loved Maude from the first moment he set his eyes on her. John contradicts him. He says, “Harry, old son, you’ve forgotten I introduced you to Maude. Remember? You heard her talking at a party I was giving, and when you heard her rabbiting on, you said that whoever married her would be marrying a mobile Oxford English dictionary!” –Which of them is right? John remembers the event as it was then. But Harry remembers it as something more – an event that led to where he is now. Because Harry is in love now, he takes that love back in time, and invests the past with a new significance. His relationship with Maude now affects the way he remembers their beginnings: he gives their first meeting a new significance it never had at the time because he reads it in the light of his present love. His love actually changes the past. What appears to be a chance encounter becomes the most important meeting of his life. In today’s gospel, the two disciples meet Jesus who makes them see things differently and suddenly they understand it all with eyes of faith. The events remain the same but they have changed and they see the old experience with new meaning.
Denis McBride in ‘Seasons of the Word’

Finding Jesus Today
Regina Riley tells the story of a woman who for years prayed that her two sons would return to the faith. Then one Sunday morning in church she couldn’t believe her eyes. Her two sons came in and sat across the aisle from her. Her joy and gratitude overflowed. Afterwards she asked her sons what prompted their return to the faith. The younger son told the story. One Sunday morning, while vacationing in Colorado, they were driving down a mountain road. It was raining cats and dogs. Suddenly they came upon an old man without an umbrella, who was soaked through and through, who walked with a noticeable limp. Yet he trudged doggedly along the road. The brothers stopped and picked him up. It turned out that the stranger was on his way to Mass at a church three miles down the road. The brothers took him there. Since the rain was coming down so hard, and since there was nothing better to do, they decided to wait for the stranger to take him home after Mass. It wasn’t long before the boys figured that they might as well go inside, rather than wait out in the car. As the two brothers listened to the reading of the scriptures and sat through the breaking of the bread, something moved them deeply. The only way they could explain it was: “You know, Mother, it felt so right. Like getting home after a long, tiring trip.” -The story of the two brothers, and their encounter with a stranger on the Colorado road, bears a striking resemblance to today’s gospel. Like the two brothers, the disciples were on a journey disillusioned by the happenings of the day. Then they met a stranger who opened their eyes, as he listened to them and made them understand the deeper meaning of the events taking place, till they recognized him in the breaking of bread. The stranger spoke to the brothers not by using words but by his heroic example.
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’

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26- Additional anecdotes: # 1: The risen Lord with the most beautiful smile. A young boy was walking home through the park after attending a Sunday school class.  Somehow, he couldn’t stop thinking about the lesson for that day about Jesus’ teaching on the Last Judgment. What impressed him most was what the teacher said, "When you give something to another person, you’re really giving it to Jesus, and you will find the risen Jesus in everyone you meet." As he continued through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a bench.  She looked lonely and hungry.  So he sat down next to her, took a chocolate bar he had saved and offered some to her. She accepted it with a beautiful smile and he watched her smiles as she chewed the chocolate.  Then they sat together in silence, just smiling at each other. Finally, the boy got up to leave.  As he began to walk away, he turned, ran back to the bench, and gave the woman a big hug.  When he arrived home, his mother saw a big smile on his face and asked, "What made you so happy today?"  He said, "I shared my chocolate bar with Jesus."  Before his mother could ask more questions, he added, "You know, she has the most beautiful smile in the world." Meanwhile, the old woman returned to her little apartment where she lived with her sister.  "You’re all smiles," said her sister.  "What made you so happy today?"  She replied, "I was sitting in the park, eating a chocolate bar with Jesus.  And, you know, he looks a lot younger than I expected."  Today’s Gospel tells us that we will meet and experience the risen Jesus in unexpected places and persons.

# 2: Euryclea’s moment of recognition: In Homer's 8th century B.C.  Greek epic poem The Odyssey we read the tale of Odysseus, the ruler of the Island country, Ithaca.  Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought bravely in the Trojan War. But according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as Poseidon, (the god of the sea, angered by Odysseus' blinding of Poseidon's son, Polyphemos the one-eyed Cyclops), and Helios, (god of the sun, enraged by the slaughter of his cattle by Odysseus' men), worked against the best efforts of Odysseus' patron, Athena (the goddess of wisdom), and Zeus (Father of the Gods), to bring Odysseus home at the end of the time prescribed by his destiny.  Odysseus' journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts, powers and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens' voices. Meanwhile back at his home, Odysseus' wife Penelope and family had presumed him dead. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrived home at last. In his 20-year absence, as Athena had told him, his young son had grown up, and Penelope, his faithful wife had been, for the past three years, besieged by suitors. Athena had commanded Odysseus to destroy these men, restore his kingdom and rule there in peace with his son Telemachus to succeed him. Then Odysseus, disguised by Athena as a poor stranger in need of temporary lodging, made his way to the faithful keeper of the pigs and thence to the housekeeper, Euryclea. She welcomed the apparent traveler and washed his feet as was usual for a guest, telling him about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had served as a nurse when he was young, remarking that the child had been gored by a wild boar, and had a nasty scar on his leg from the tusk. As Euryclea finished washing the stranger’s feet, her hand brushed against that old scar. Instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master! Today’s Gospel describes how the Emmaus travelers recognized their fellow traveler’s identity as the risen Lord at the breaking of the bread. (Scott Hoeze).

# 3: I met some guy in here last week who looks just like you!” A man wrote to Reader’s Digest to tell about his father-in-law, whose name is Eugene. Eugene was in a restaurant with some business associates when a distinguished-looking gentleman rushed up to his table. Hardly able to contain his enthusiasm, the man began to pump Eugene’s hand vigorously, all the while addressing him as Joe, fondly recalling the great times they had together in the Army. Eugene, who had served in the Merchant Marines, gently told the man that he was mistaken, and had evidently confused him with someone else. The stranger, obviously embarrassed, apologized profusely and left. A week later, while leaving the same restaurant, Eugene bumped into the stranger again. This time, the stranger hugged him, and repeated to all within earshot the poignant story of two Army buddies who had not seen each other in years. Finally, before Eugene could speak a word, he said, “You know, you’re never going to believe this, but I met some guy in here last week who looks just like you!” We could understand that happening. He hadn’t seen his old Army buddy in many years. We can even understand about the man in the hospital thinking another woman was his wife. But how do you explain Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb not recognizing the Risen Christ? And how do you explain the two disciples on the road to Emmaus walking and talking with Christ for seven miles that same day, and they, too, did not recognize him? Today’s Gospel tells that story.

# 4: "Are you Jesus?"  Several years ago a group of computer salesmen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago.  They had assured their wives that they would be home in time for dinner.  But the meeting ran overtime, and the men had to race to the railway station, tickets in hand.  As they barged through the terminal, one man inadvertently kicked over a table supporting a basket of apples.  Without stopping, all the men reached the train and boarded it with sighs of relief.  But one of them paused, feeling a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple stand had been overturned.  He waved goodbye to his companions and returned to the boy.  He was glad he had because the ten-year-old boy was blind. The salesman gathered up the apples and noticed that several of them were bruised.  He reached into his wallet and said to the boy, "Here, please take this ten-dollar bill for the damage we did.  I hope it won't spoil your day."  As he started to walk away, the bewildered boy called after him, "Are you Jesus?" Jesus comes to us in various disguises.

# 5: The story of "Wrong Way Riegels" is a familiar one, but it bears repeating. On New Year's Day, l929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA. Picking up the loose ball, he lost his sense of direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he reached the end zone. The Bruins were forced to punt. Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, demoralizing the UCLA team. The strange play came in the first half. At halftime the UCLA players filed off the field and into the dressing room. They sat around on benches and the floor. But Riegels put a blanket around his shoulders, sat down in a corner, and put his face in his hands. A football coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime. That day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riegels. When the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said, "Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second." The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He didn't budge. The coach looked back and called to him. Riegels didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, "Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second." Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears. "Coach," he said, "I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the university’s reputation. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face that crowd out there." Coach Price reached out, put his hands on Riegels' shoulder, and said, "Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over." ["To Illustrate," Leadership (Spring 1992), p. 49.] No appearance of Christ after the Resurrection is more vivid or beautiful than the episode that takes place on the Road to Emmaus because it is a story of singular grace and charm. The two disciples, like Roy Riegels, were traveling in the wrong direction. They had "fumbled" and were running away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They thought the game of life was over. Imagine their surprise when Jesus told them that the same team of disciples who had fled from the cross was going to start the second half of the game. He was telling them there would be a tomorrow.

# 6: Jesus on a Maple tree? There is an 80-foot tall maple tree in Milford, Connecticut that hasn’t changed much over the years. There are new leaves every spring, of course, and the leaves fall off every autumn. And there is the spot where a limb came off when Hurricane Gloria blew through in 1985.The spot where the limb was blown off caused quite a stir in the neighborhood sometime back. One of the residents, Claudia Voight, looked at the tree one day and saw what looked like the face of Jesus. "It took my breath away," she recalls. "I told my friend to come over and pretty soon we had the entire neighborhood here looking." Word spread quickly throughout the area and before anyone realized it the maple tree became a popular attraction as car after car drove by to see the face of Christ on the tree. Drivers slowed down as they passed by, while others parked and walked through yards to see firsthand this strange apparition.
Eve Mizera, another Hawley Avenue neighbor, brought her 17-year-old son over to touch the tree in the hope it would cure him of the seizures that he suffers. "You never know," Eve says. Another resident, Cathy Cornwall, says she brought her three children over to see the tree. "We have a lot of single mothers in the neighborhood," she explains, "and teenagers who have to make tough decisions in these times." Cathy also sees the face in the tree as a message of hope. She says it’s "like a message to have faith in ourselves and to have hope for the world." ["Face of Jesus seen in a maple tree,"
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA, July 25, 1992), p. B-25.] This brings us to our question for the day. Where in the world do we find Jesus? Today’s Gospel gives us the answer that Jesus meets us on our life’s Emmaus road

# 7: It takes the signal nine hours to get to earth. In 1972, NASA launched an exploratory space probe called Pioneer 10. The mission of Pioneer 10 was to fly to Jupiter, take pictures of the planet and moons and send back data about the atmosphere, magnetic field, and radiation belts. Many scientists did not think this would be possible, because they feared that the probe would be destroyed in the asteroid belt, and up to this point, no probe had made it past Mars. But, Pioneer 10 completed its mission in November of 1973, and continued to travel into space. By 1997, the probe had traveled six billion miles from the sun. In spite of the great distance, scientists are still able to pick up radio signals from the probe that they can decipher. What is more remarkable is that these signals are sent by an 8‑watt transmitter, which is only as powerful as a night light, and it takes the signal nine hours to get to earth. (Rev. Matt Sapp, http://www.ccountry.net/~svchurch/svcc/sermons/mark10d.htm) It is always amazing to me that a generation that takes for granted the wonders of science is so quick to dismiss the power and the purpose of the Creator who set it all in motion in the first place. God is alive. God is personal. God cares about us and God desires to reveal Himself to us just as Christ revealed himself to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

# 8: "But I’ve got this problem, I can’t sleep at night.'' Dr. Tony Campolo, in his film series, You Can Make a Difference, tells the story of a Christian colleague with a PhD. in English Literature who quit his job and became a mailman because Christ opened up a new tomorrow in his life. Tony went to the man’s apartment to try to persuade him to change his mind. Here is how Tony describes that encounter: Tony says, "I couldn’t change his mind, so I came back with the old Protestant work ethic thing. I said, 'Charlie, if you’re gonna be a mailman, be the best mailman you can be.' He looked at me with a silly grin and said, 'I’m a lousy mailman.' I asked, 'What do you mean, you’re a lousy mailman?' He answered, 'Everybody else gets the mail delivered by one o’clock; I never get back until about five thirty or six.' 'What takes so long?' I wanted to know. He said, 'I visit! That’s why it takes so long. You wouldn’t believe how many people on my route never got visited until I became the mailman. But I’ve got this problem, I can’t sleep at night.' I asked, 'Why can’t you sleep?' He said, 'Who can sleep after drinking twenty cups of coffee?' I began to get the image of this mailman on the job. He was no ordinary mailman. I could picture him going from door to door and at each home giving more than the mail. I could see him visiting solitary widows, counseling troubled teenagers, joking with lonely old men. I could see him delivering the mail in a way that was extra-ordinary for the people on his route. He’s the only mailman I know that on his birthday the people on his route get together, hire out a gym, and throw a party for him. They love him because he’s a mailman who expresses the love of Jesus everywhere he goes. In his own subtle way, my friend Charles is changing his world, changing the lives of people, touching them where they are, making a difference in their lives. It may not sound like much, but that man who is delivering mail like Jesus would deliver mail, is an agent of God who is changing the world." [Tony Campolo, You Can Make a Difference, (Word, Inc., l984), pp. 54-55.] We can return to our "Jerusalem" and wait for the energizing power of the Holy Spirit to help us to travel like the PhD mailman, in a new direction doing the work that we feel Christ has called us to do.

# 9: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?'' On March 20, 1983, John Sculley, President of Pepsi Cola and one of America’s fastest rising corporate stars, stepped off the elevator and into the penthouse suite of the San Remo apartment building in New York. He was there to give Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, an answer to his offer. For months, Jobs and his staff, badly in need of a brilliant leader to manage their rapid growth, had been trying to lure Sculley away from Pepsi. Sculley had discouraged their efforts. He had no interest in leaving Pepsi and he knew almost nothing about computers. Besides, he was slotted for the top spot at Pepsi and his salary, stock options and perks were beyond anything Jobs could hope to match. Still, Jobs persisted. Their conversation unfolded like this, according to Sculley: "We were on the balcony's west side, facing the Hudson River and he finally asked me directly: 'Are you going to come to Apple?' 'Steve,' I said, 'I really love what you're doing. I'm excited by it. How could anyone not be captivated? But it doesn't make sense. I'd love to be an advisor to you, to help you in any way. Anytime you're in New York, I'd love to spend time with you. But I don't think I can come to Apple.' Steve's head dropped as he stared at the pavement. After a weighty, uncomfortable pause, he issued a challenge that would haunt me for days: 'Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?'" (Youth Worker, Spring, 1993.) When the two disciples recognized it was the Lord Jesus who shared dinner with them even though they had failed and forsaken him, they never felt more loved. Their hearts burned with His love. Jesus declared to them that the game of life was only half over. They were to turn around and get back to Jerusalem and await further instructions and a new assignment. The schedule would go on as planned. Jesus was giving them a chance to change the world. That brings us to a question that we should often ask ourselves as we travel on our own Emmaus road. Are we affecting the world--or is the world infecting us?

# 10: “What exciting thing is going to happen today?" In A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Pooh and Piglet take an evening walk. For a long time they walk in silence. Silence like only best friends can share. Finally Piglet breaks the silence and asks, "When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" answers Pooh, and then asks, "And what do you say, Piglet?" Piglet says, "I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today?"[Robert D. Dale, To Dream Again, (Broadman Press, Nashville, 1981).] You and I can't really plan to meet the risen Christ because we never really know when or where He's going to show up. But you can be sure of this: He will show up.

# 11: "And the light in his eyes does not go out":  Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn demonstrated the power of the Word of God in his book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a book based on his own prison experiences. Ivan notices that one of his fellow prisoners in the Gulag Archipelago is not broken, and the light in his eyes does not go out, as it seems to in all the other convicts. This is because each night in his bunk before the glimmering bulb is turned off, this man reverently unfolds some wrinkled pieces of paper that have somehow escaped the censor. On them are copied passages from the Gospels. The Book of Life was the secret of this man's strength and endurance deep in the darkest corner behind the Iron Curtain. [Earl C. Davis in “Sermons and Services for Special Days”, Jack Galledge, ed. (Nashville Convention Press, 1979).] That is one way we encounter the risen Christ – in the "Breaking of the Bread of Life" which is the Word.

# 12: For Helen Keller it was a gigantic breakthrough:  Young Helen Keller was imprisoned by her circumstances. She could neither see nor hear. She could feel with her hands, but without sight or hearing, how could she know what it was she was feeling? One day her teacher Ann Sullivan took Helen down a familiar path to the well house. Someone was drawing water there. Ann let the water run over one of Helen's hands and in sign language spelled into the other, WATER. Suddenly something happened within Helen. Something dramatic. Something life-changing. It was only a five-letter word, but for Helen Keller it was a gigantic breakthrough. She now had a name for a familiar part of her life, water. If this substance had a name, other familiar objects and sensations must have names as well. It was as if she had suddenly burst forth from a closely guarded prison. Now she could be a whole person, experiencing the world as a real human being in spite of her handicaps. Such a breakthrough is always exciting. Such a breakthrough came to two of the disciples of Jesus on their Emmaus journey described in today’s Gospel.

# 13: "Don't worry, Miss, I've got you." Our tendency is to look for Christ in the extraordinary, the spectacular, the breathtaking. Remember in Superman: The Movie when Superman first reveals his superpowers to the world? Lois Lane is dangling from a cable, high atop the Daily Planet building, screaming at the top of her lungs. Just as she begins her long fall to earth, Superman changes into his flashy red, yellow, and blue outfit and swoops up to catch her in midair. "Don't worry, Miss," he assures her, "I've got you." "You've got me," she exclaims. "Who's got you?" Just then the helicopter that has been perched on the edge of the building begins to fall straight toward them and the crowd below. But Superman merely grabs it with his one free arm and gently sets both it and Lois safely back on the landing pad. When he turns to leave, an astonished Lois stammers out the words, "Who ARE you?" "A friend," Superman replies warmly, and as he flies straight up into the air with a sort of half twist, Lois faints in a heap. [Jack Kuhatschek, The Superman Syndrome (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p. 133.] That's the way we would like to have  Christ to come to us. And that is why we miss Him. Christ reveals Himself as He has always revealed Himself – "through the Word and through the Sacraments," that is, through the study of Scripture and the Breaking of the Bread. That is why, when we need encouragement, we go to our Bibles or we go to our Church because there Christ is revealed in all his glory.

# 14: "We pursue him in order to show him the way." There is a gripping story of a traveler who was walking along the road one day when a man on horseback rushed by. There was an evil look in his eyes and blood on his hands. Minutes later a crowd of riders drew up and wanted to know if the traveler had seen someone with blood on his hands go by. They were in hot pursuit of him. "Who is he?" the traveler asked. "An evil-doer," said the leader of the crowd. "And you pursue him in order to bring him to justice?" asked the traveler. "No," said the leader, "we pursue him in order to show him the way." [Fr. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1990), p. 65.] The picture we have in the New Testament is of a God who pursues us so that He may show us the way. Christ comes to the two disciples. They do not recognize him, but it is Jesus who takes the initiative. He walks with them and interprets Scripture for them.

# 15: The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches. There is a story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted. Trying to reach the coast for a boat to England that night, he ended up wandering in the pitch-black night, hopelessly lost. In the darkness, he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he began to climb the post so that he could read it. As he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized that, rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Then he remembered the One who had died for him . . . who had endured . . . who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches. ["To Illustrate," Preaching Magazine, (Jan-Feb 1989).] Maybe that's what you and I need to do in the moments of our distress and darkness – strike a match in the darkness and look on the face of Jesus Christ. For Christ is here. He comes to us just as he came to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, even though we may not recognize him. He takes the initiative. He knocks on the door.

# 16: Healing of the grandfather: The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was lame. Once day they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience Him, and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s Gospel.

17) "We are winning!" A young boy was playing left field in a Little League game when a man yelled over the fence, "Hey son, who's winning?” The little boy replied, "We are!" "What's the score?" "They have 23 -- We have 0." "They have you 23 to 0?" The man was confused. "I thought you said you were winning." "Oh, we are," explained the little boy. "You see, we ain't come to bat yet!" It was easy for the disciples to quit. The One in Whom they had placed their hopes was dead. It was 23 to nothing in their life that Easter morning.

18) Karl Barth’s barber:  Karl Barth, one of the twentieth century's most famous Protestant theologians, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland where he lived and lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on the streetcar and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired. "Yes," said the tourist. "Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth. "Yes," he said, "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?" Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning." The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."  That amuses me. That tourist was in the presence of the very person he most wanted to meet, but even with the most obvious clue, he never realized that the man with whom he was talking was the great man himself.  It reminds me of Mary's reaction on Easter morning. In her grief, she thinks the man she is speaking to is the gardener. It is not, of course. Until he calls her by name, she does not realize that she is already speaking with the risen Christ. And, of course, it reminds me of that scene on the road to Emmaus, when later that same Easter day, two of the disciples walk for a while with the resurrected Jesus, and they, too, have no idea with whom they are conversing. (Rev. King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com. Quoted by Fr. Kayala)

19) And it opened my eyes: (from the Confessions of that of  St. Augustine. He made a life in Rome and Milan between the 4th and 5th centuries and after his conversion to Christianity, he returned to Hippo, in Africa as its Bishop. After Rome fell and faded into dust, Augustine's writings were what largely that kept Christianity alive and made it the most influential movement the world has ever known. It is remarkable that between the 8th and 12th centuries Augustine’s writings were more widely read than any other. And that was 400 to 700 years after his death.  But he was not always a saint. Before he was converted at age 29, he lived to fulfill every lust and pleasure. But Augustine had one great quality that saved his pitiful life - a praying mother. She never gave up on him, and then one day he stopped long enough to listen to the voices around him. Augustine had just heard a sermon by Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. We are told in public speaking and preaching classes not to read long quotes but I'm going to do it anyway and read something that Augustine wrote. These two paragraphs shaped the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. Augustine is looking back on his conversion to Christianity and the convictions of his heart. Here's the quote:  "One day, under deep conviction: I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out...So was I weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.  So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find... Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius (his friend) was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh...' No further would I read; nor did I need to, for instantly at the end of this sentence, as if before a peaceful light streaming into my heart, all the dark shadows of doubt vanished away. [Adapted from John K. Ryan, trans., The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 8, Chapter 12, Section 29 (New York: Doubleday Image, 1960), p. 202; quoted by Fr. Kayala.]

20)  Schindler's List: In the 1993 Academy Award winning movie, Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler is a selfish businessman who, halfway through World War II, turned his profitable factory into a very unprofitable cover operation to save Jews from the gas chambers. At the end of the movie, as the war ends, Schindler is standing with the people he has saved. He looks around at their faces and then he starts to break down. He holds up his watch and says that if he had sold that he could have saved another five people. He does the same with his cuff links. Then he starts to list all the ways he could have saved more people if he had been just less lazy and less self-centered just a little bit sooner. He had discovered his mission, but he regretted that he hadn't discovered it sooner. We too have a mission. We are on a meaningful journey, a pilgrimage, our Emmaus journey.  Christ doesn't want us to have any regrets, and so he reminds us of this again today. (E-Priest).

21) Pulling Carts and Building Cathedrals: Centuries ago, when our fellow Christians were building the astonishing Gothic Cathedrals of Europe, the whole town or city would contribute to the work. Sometimes they would do so directly. They would quarry the stone from somewhere outside the city, and every townsperson would put their own stones onto carts. Some of the carts and wagons became so heavy that they would require hundreds of people to pull them to the building site. Yes, the people themselves would pull those carts. They would harness themselves to the carts with ropes, or just grab onto ropes attached to the carts full of stone for the rising cathedral. And all together they would pull the cart along. Sometimes they would sing hymns as they pulled. Most of the time they would pull in silence, each one praying to the Lord in the quiet of his heart, thinking about how much Christ had sacrificed himself on the cross to be able to offer them salvation, and offering him prayers and their own sacrifice in thanksgiving, and in penance for their sins. They had no iPod's to listen to as they worked, and no pay-check to look forward to. What gave them the strength to carry on that backbreaking work, week after week, month after month, decade after decade? It was prayer. They pulled those carts loaded with stone, and while they pulled, they prayed. We too are pulling our carts through life, loaded with the stones of suffering, frustration, and hardship.  And if we become men and women of prayer, we will not only find the strength to keep on pulling, but the Holy Spirit, the master architect, will even build those stones of suffering into beautiful cathedrals, glorifying God and filling hearts with joy for all eternity. The same should be our aim while we are on our life’s journey to Emmaus. (E-priest).

22) You are my sunshine: Like all good parents, when Karen and her husband found that another baby was on the way, they did what they could to help their three-year old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. When they found the baby was going to be a girl, they would gather Michael in their arms and he would sing to his sister in Mummy's tummy the only song he knows, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine." The pregnancy progressed normally, then the labour pains, but complications arise during delivery. Finally, Michael's sister is born but she is in serious conditions. The days inch by but the little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst." Michael keeps begging to see his sister. "I want to sing to her," he pleads. But children are not allowed in the ICU. Finally Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael to the hospital whether they like it or not, figuring that if he doesn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dresses him and marches him to the ICU, but the head nurse bellows, "Get that kid out of here now!" Karen glares into the nurse's face, her lips a firm line, "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!" Michael gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live, and begins to sing in the pure hearted voice of a three-year-old: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey..." Instantly, the baby responds. Her pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing Michael! "You never know dear how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." The baby's ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten's purr. Michael's little sister relaxes at rest, -healing rest seems to sweep over her. Keep on singing Michael! Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. Funeral plans are scrapped. The next day -the very next day- the little girl is well enough to go home! - In an article about the incident, Woman's Day magazine called it "the miracle of a brother's song." Karen called it a miracle of God's love. The medical staff simply called it a miracle. We call it the Lazarus story all over again. Love is stronger than death. The awareness of the real presence of the risen Lord works such miracles in our lives too. (William Bausch in The Word In and Out of Season; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

23) “The Church of the Second Chance.”  In the book titled “Saint Maybe” the main character has done something horrible. As he is aimlessly walking around he happens to see a church by name, “The Church of the Second Chance.” He wanders in and sits down. During the service his mind is opened to the possibility of making amends for his sin, a ”do-over.“ Today’s Gospel is a good example of the truth that God does not expect us to be perfect. But he wants us to recognize His presence with us and seek His help. St. John, the Gospel writer, seems almost to get a kick out of the clueless and sad couple Cleopas and his wife, finally recognizing the Risen Lord, “the God of second chances,” at the “Breaking of the Bread.” Here as they are running away from the Lord of the Second Chance, He welcomes them and they run back seven miles to Jerusalem to convey the Good News of the Lord’s resurrection to the fellow apostles. (Fr. Steve Humphrey). HR

 

24) The Dismissal is most important: A teacher was once speaking to her students about the Eucharist. She asked the students which was, in their opinion, the most important part of the Mass. Without batting an eyelid, one student replied, "The Dismissal- Go, the Mass is ended!" Initially the teacher thought the student was joking, but he was absolutely serious and meant just what he said. So the teacher asked him to explain, and this is his answer: "The whole purpose of the Mass is to nourish us spiritually -first, with God's Word in the Liturgy of the Word, and second, with God's Life in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, culminating in the Holy Communion. And God nourishes us so that we can go forth and bear witness to Him by our lives, our words and our actions." The teacher was impressed and urged the student to continue. And so he added, "The Eucharist does not end with the Dismissal Rite. On the contrary, it begins there. Like the two disciples at Emmaus, we must go forth and tell others what the Lord Jesus means to us."
(James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

25) Valmiki and St. Francis Xavier: The meeting of Jesus was a life changing experience for the two disciples. In history, we see many people whose life has been changed by unexpected events. The Uttara Khanda (the seventh and last book of what we call the Valmiki Ramayana)  tells the story of Valmiki's early life, a highway robber named Valya Koli, who used to rob people after killing them. Once, the robber tried to rob the divine sage Narada for the benefit of his family. Narada asked him if his family would share the sin he was incurring due to the robbery. The robber replied positively, but Narada told him to confirm this with his family. The robber asked his family, but none agreed to bear the burden of sin. Dejected, the robber finally understood the truth of life and asked for Nerada’s forgiveness, and meditated for many years, so much so that ant-hills grew around his body. Finally, a divine voice declared his penance successful, bestowing him with the name "Valmiki": "on e born out of ant-hills" According to the legend, one unexpected question shook his life, and transformed a robber into a sage. The ambitious dreams  of Francis Xavier to shine in the world over as one of the most intellectual luminaries were thwarted by the famous words of Jesus "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he looses his own soul?", repeatedly sounded into his ears by Ignatius de Loyola.  That was a life changing experience for Francis Xavier. Representing the Jesuits, he landed in Goa, and spent his days nursing the sick and teaching them Christian doctrine.  "Build a Man a Fire, and He'll Be Warm for a Day. Set a Man on Fire, and He'll Be Warm for the Rest of His Life." Says the proverb.  That is what Ignatius de Loyola did to Francis Xavier. That is what Jesus did to the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. (Fr. Bobby Jose).

 

26) Go to Mass every Sunday… work in a soup kitchenArchbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee said in an interview in the magazine The Critic: “If younger people are having an identity problem as Catholics, I tell them to do two things: Go to Mass every Sunday and work in a soup kitchen. If one does those two things over a period of time, then something will happen to give one a truly Catholic identity. The altar and the marketplace-these two must be related to each other; when they are, one works better, and prays better.”

(Quoted by Fr. Botelho). L/17