Our Emmaus:Walks, Meals and Runs – Pat Nogoy, SJ

Luke 24:13-35, 3rd Sunday of Easter

Arcabas

Some walks can be hard and long. Especially for those whose hopes and lives have been shattered to pieces. Robbed of life’s coherence, two disciples can only return and make their way home. Home is a familiar and comfortable place where they can somehow piece some fragments together into a new start. The foundations of human hope collapse into an incomplete and uncertain beginning. The days are long and some walks may be unbearable.

God makes the first move. He draws near as a stranger. Unfamiliar, his alien appearance is marked by gentle concern and deep curiosity. He is less interested in the facts as in our stories—how our hopes have been stoked by a savior, how we have found coherence between our faith and human destiny in the life and works of the one crucified, and how it meant for us to even dare hope. He helps us piece our fragments together using the language of our own stories. He broadens our horizons by placing in front of us a wider narrative that we fail to comprehend. Mired with human disappointment and hopelessness, our stories are part of an epic already written in the scrolls: the ongoing tale of God’s fulfilment of promises and prophecies. He asks the two disciples to believe once more in this familiar truth. In doing so, they receive a gift of coherence—new yet familiar—from a foreigner who knows them deeply. Walks like this turn out to be rewarding surprises. Easter is a season of walks—where strangers open our eyes and make our hearts burn because they remind us that our lives do not end in disappointing and fragmented stories. Easter is a season of walks—moments where we sew up our tattered faith into fresh patterns of hope because we choose once more to listen and believe. Easter is a season of walks—of spending time with God who is curious and concerned with how our days are turning out, what deeply moves us, and what crushes our hopes and leaves our hearts listless and cold. Let us not grow tired in telling God our stories. Let us not be afraid in letting Him teach us how to write the next chapters.

Some long and rewarding walks end with a good meal. Rekindled, the two disciples beg the stranger to share supper with them. Lord, it is already evening, stay with us. God honours our invitation and shares our table. In a stunning breach of etiquette, He, a stranger, takes the lead and sets the meal with familiar gestures—took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and handed it to them. In putting shape to fallen foundations of hope, God does it in a manner that we can recognise Him. At that moment, He vanishes. What remains is a powerful testimony of a hope restored. Easter is a feast of sharing meals—where strangers turn out to be familiar because they remind us how we ought to set the table of our faith. Easter is a feast of sharing meals—those moments that see us insisting that the Lord stay because our evenings have grown uncertain and worrisome. Easter is a feast of sharing meals—a time of gathering and exchanging testimonies of how God (re)shapes of our lives, how He revives our drooping spirits and makes our hearts burn. Let us invite God to our table and ask Him to set our meals aright—that is, in thanksgiving, joy, and hope.

 

In closing, I share with you an instagram post of Fr Danny Huang, SJ. It is a unique Emmaus painting by the Jean-Marie Pirot (Arcabas). He depicts the supper table of Emmaus in a half-dishevelled fashion. This scene is an aftermath of the disciples’ sudden flight prompted by a rewarding walk and surprising meal with the Risen One. Part of the explanation states: “the table is still set: plates, cutlery, full glasses, the soup tureen, the candles extinguished, the tablecloth bunched up, the napkins thrown down, the chair upended…everything speaks of such a hurried exit that the door is left wide open and outside you can see the clear sky, deep blue, dotted with stars. The threshold is as open as the hearts and minds that have been opened to hope and understanding. It is not the time to analyse, but to announce to the brothers in Jerusalem what has happened, that the Lord is truly risen and mysteriously accompanies his own.”

Easter is, and has always been, a time to run and announce the good news.

*Painting by Arcabas

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