“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” This week we hear the story of the Road to Emmaus which we are so familiar with. Jesus walks with the disciples listening to their stories as they struggle to understand recent events. He helps them to deal with their fears by first walking with them, simply being present, and listening. Then he helps them to understand their struggles by building relationship and trust through conversation focused on truth. He brings them comfort, peace from their fears, and truth which opens their eyes to His glory and fuels their desire to have him remain with them. As he breaks open the bread that burning desire fuels a passion that sends them out to proclaim the news of his love.
This is the story of revelation – the revelation that we experience every time we attend mass. In the Liturgy of the Word, the good news is proclaimed for our hearing. It reminds us of the promises of God and the truth of Jesus Christ. It draws us in setting our hearts on fire for his love. The veil is lifted as the Word is proclaimed and we are drawn into the intimate love and passion of the Eucharist – Jesus himself; body and blood, soul and divinity. He nourishes us that we might go out proclaiming and defending the Truth through the actions of our lives.
It is also the revelation we receive in our lives from Baptism to death and new life. Our second reading finds St. Peter talking about the gift and call that come to us from God in our Baptism. At Baptism, our Lord comes to walk with us in our lives. He reclaims us from the grip of Satan drawing us back into his loving arms. St. Peter reminds us that our baptism is a blessing that calls us to obedience and reverence which lead to mutual love born out of a pure heart. We are called not simply to obedience of some laws or principles, but to act in the image and likeness of God. We are to follow the model of Jesus, behaving as he did toward others – particularly those in need. This calls us beyond simply offering help and challenges us to take on the burdens others carry without judgement or reservation. By the grace of our baptism we are called into a life of unity with both Jesus and those in need through Jesus’ affection for them. During difficult times, He walks with each of us as well, listening to our fears and offering us His truth, love and mercy. When we focus on Him and our relationship with Him and one another, our hearts burn with desire for understanding. We also thirst for the nourishment of His body and blood in the Eucharist. Our eyes and our hearts are opened wide as we share at the Eucharistic table.
As Vincentian’s this call is at the very core of who we are. We are confronted with many who are fearful of new challenges in life. We need to offer our presence and listen to their stories. We need to offer relationship and presence to them, walking with them in their time of need. As we walk with them, living the virtues St. Vincent calls us to, we offer them the hope and presence of our Lord Jesus. Our presence should reflect and embody humility (recognition that God gives us all that we are and all that we need), simplicity (honesty), gentleness (kindness and compassion), selflessness (self-sacrifice and deference to the needs of others even above our own), and zeal (passion). It is in living out these virtues that our heart (motivations) becomes pure. Does my walk with neighbors in need reflect these virtues? Do I simply offer help, or do I offer myself, uniting fully to those I minister to? Do I listen to their stories with patience and mercy? Do I help them to see past the pain of today to the hope of tomorrow?
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my doubts and fears, trusting always in your goodness, mercy and love. Allow me to be the wounds of your cross, which help strengthen the faith and hope of others. Let me be the presence others need, building relationship and trust through mercy and compassion. Give me a listening ear and a truthful tongue, just as you had on the Road to Emmaus. Help me to minister with patience and humility, always helping others to see you in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen