Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1Pet 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35
The late Pope Benedict XVI once reminded us of the dialogical nature of Christian prayer with the scriptures in these words:
“Remember that prayer should accompany the reading of the Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may walk together; for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying.”(Dei Verbum #25)
God speaks to us when we prayerfully listen to the words of sacred scripture. He also listens to us as we speak to Him from our hearts filled with His words.
This conversational exchange with God based on His words has two simultaneous and inseparable effects on us. First, we begin to desire the Lord Jesus and all that He desires for us. Secondly, we begin to recognize His abiding presence in our lives, “God and man walking together.” We will only recognize that which we intensely desire, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”(Mt 5:8) Similarly, we cannot recognize the presence of the Lord Jesus with us if we are not desiring Him as we should, and we cannot desire Him as we should if His words have no room in our hearts and minds.
The risen Christ approached His two dejected and discouraged disciples on their way to Emmaus. He did not reveal Himself to them immediately but initiated a conversation with them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” He then spoke to them at length, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures.” The disciples listened attentively to His words and revealed themselves to Him completely, telling Him about their frustrated hopes and failures to find the dead body of Jesus.
As they listened to Him attentively and revealed themselves to Him honestly, their desire for Him began to take shape. They so desired continuous conversation with this mysterious stranger that they exclaimed, “Stay with us.” Their hearts were already burning within them as He spoke and explained the scriptures to them.
They first recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. Then they returned to their community that night and also recognized His presence with them in their community, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” They became joyful and hopeful witnesses when they had this double recognition of the risen Christ with them. Truly, there is no greater joy for a Christian than to sense the presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist and in the community.
St. Peter tells us that Jesus has been raised by the Father, “God raised Him up, releasing Him from the throes of death.” Jesus Christ is not only alive and with us but He has also won for us the abiding presence of the Spirit, “Exalted at the right hand of God, He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured Him forth, as you see and hear.”(Acts 2:14, 22-33) Through His Spirit, Christ is with us and speaking to us constantly, revealing Himself to us in His written words, Eucharist, and community.
This has grave implications for us personally and communally as members of the Body of Christ. On a personal level, we know that we are reading the word of God with the right disposition when such reading increases our hunger for communion with Him and we begin to recognize His presence with us, beginning with the Eucharist and the Christian community. We cannot read the word of God as inspired by the Spirit and still doubt the presence of Christ with us, reject His Real Presence in the Eucharist, or deny that He is present and active in the community of faith. We must critically examine our disposition in bible reading if it does not intensify our hunger for Jesus and help us to recognize His Real Presence in the Eucharist and in the Christian community.
On a communal level, there is so much talk today about becoming a synodal Church, a Church in which we all journey together. We learn something from the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They were surely journeying together without recognizing the risen Christ in their midst. They were only listening to each other’s frustrations and broken hopes. They were left discouraged, arguing and hopeless. They thus earned the rebuke of Jesus, “Oh how foolish you are.”
When we too try to journey together without each one of us intently listening to the word of God, we will end up confused, discouraged, and divided. We will have nothing but wars about our warped agendas that produce nothing but lost and frustrated souls. Eventually, we lose our bearing in faith and morals and produce the many fiascos that are being termed synodal processes that produce nothing but confusions and contradictions of the one true faith.
The risen Christ is with us and He is speaking to us through His Spirit all the time. Let us use the word of God and cultivate our desire for Him so that we can recognize His presence with us. Under the guidance of the Spirit, let us read the word of God with expectant faith that God will speak to us what we need to hear here and now. Let us believe every word that God speaks to us and hold it close to our hearts like the Blessed Virgin Mary did. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, let us ponder what these words mean for us today. Then let us also reveal ourselves to Him completely and with all humility. Lastly, we act on these words with faith in Him and we will be amazed how we begin to realize that we are never alone but the risen Savior walks with us every step of the way.
When we begin to desire Him appropriately through appropriate reading and reflecting on His words, we will begin to recognize His abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and in every moment of our lives. This is no greater joy for a Christian than this joy of recognizing the risen Christ with us always.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!