Welcome to Week 22 of Disciples Together on the Way and our second week focusing on the theme of the Holy Eucharist. As we walk together this week, let us recall the story of the Road to Emmaus:
Disheartened by Jesus’ death and bewildered that someone might have taken his body from the tomb, two followers of Jesus made their way out of Jerusalem for the village of Emmaus.
Understandably, these grief-stricken disciples left Jerusalem and the normal joys of Passover week — the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread — sad and downcast. They “had hoped that [Jesus would be] the one [who would] redeem Israel” (Luke 24:17) … and now, he was dead.
They had likely heard Jesus preach, raise the dead, feed thousands, give sight to the blind, make the deaf hear, cast out demons (see Luke 24:19). Not only was this someone in whom they had placed all their hopes; but now he was dead. He had actually been executed as a criminal, by crucifixion!
Perhaps you’ve had times in your life that you’ve felt this kind of devastation? Perhaps you didn’t know it was possible to be so heartbroken? What breaks most of our hearts is a loss of love.
Pope Benedict XVI talks about this kind of sadness when he says that “the root of man’s wretchedness is loneliness, is the absence of love – is the fact that my existence is not embraced by a love that makes it necessary.” (1)
The US-based Dominican priest, Fr. Peter John Cameron, writes: “Our misery arises when we live without a love strong enough to justify our existence no matter how much pain and limitation go along with it. What our heart is crying out for is a true companion in whose love we experience how truly necessary and invaluable our existence is.”
On their journey to Emmaus the hearts of these disciples burned within them as the mysterious man walking beside them opened the Scriptures to them: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26).
Arriving at their destination, they urged the man to remain with them. It was then, at table, as they received the bread Jesus gave to them, that he vanished from their sight. Even as he vanished, Jesus — Emmanuel, “God with us” — abided with them in the bread become His Body.
Again, Fr. Peter John Cameron writes, “the very word companion derives from the two Latin words cum, meaning ‘with’, and panis, which means ‘bread’. A companion is literally ‘bread-with-us’ — in other words, all that we need. This literally is the Eucharist! The Eucharist proclaims that God is not a distant fact toward which human beings strive with great effort. ‘Rather he is Someone who has joined man on his path, who has become his companion’.” (2) Jesus is the love which gives our lives a full meaning; and the Eucharist is that loving presence with us always.
Hence, this week’s challenge is to spend 15 minutes praying before Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, praying before the Lord who meets us and becomes our companion along the way.
Whether it’s formal exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in your parish or if it’s just fifteen minutes before the tabernacle, spend this extended time with Jesus, who is our true Companion.
And may God bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing
(1) Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, trans. Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 52.
(2) Peter John Cameron O.P., Jesus, Present Before Me: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration . St. Anthony Messenger Press, Servant Books. Cameron quotes Father Luigi Giussani, Why the Church? Viviane Hewitt, trans. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University, 2001), 15.