Our Lord Appears to the Two Disciples on their Way to Emmaus.
Picture to yourself the two disciples, who, deeply distressed at the events which had recently taken place in Jerusalem, had left the city and were pursuing the lonely road leading to Emmaus. Join them in spirit; listen to them while they talk together of our Lord’s death, and mutually confide to one another their fears, their doubts, their perplexities. See how all at once Jesus, their risen Master, draws near and walks beside them. Fix your attention on the pleasing picture the Gospel for today presents to your view, and see what instruction may be gathered from it.
1st. Consider why our Lord appeared to these two disciples in particular. According to all that may be gathered from the narrative of the Evangelist, these two disciples were sorely grieved by the terrible occurrences of the last few days, and not only this, but doubt had crept into their minds and their faith had already begun to waver. Now this was the very reason why the risen Lord appeared to them, why He appeared to them in particular before any of the other disciples—because they were distressed at heart and doubting in mind; for after His resurrection, even in His glory, He is still the same; He is still the Good Shepherd who hastens anxiously to the succor of His sheep when He sees them to be in danger and in need of help. He is still the same merciful, loving God, of whom the Psalmist says: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart, and He will save the humble of spirit.” (Ps. xxxiii. 19.) Ponder this, my soul, let it be for your solace; but at the same time remember that Jesus appeared to the two disciples when they were talking of Him on the way, that is, when their conversation was of spiritual subjects. If in the season of tribulation and of dread you seek distraction and recreation in useless, idle, vain converse and amusements, the risen Saviour will not appear to you and afford you the consolation of His presence.
2d. Consider the influence our Lord exercised on the hearts of the two disciples. The more He talked to them, the longer He was with them, the more completely their trouble of heart subsided, their doubts vanished; and at length they were filled with such wondrous consolation and supernatural gladness that later on they themselves were fain to acknowledge: “Was not our heart burning within us whilst He spoke in the way and opened to us the Scriptures?” (St. Luke xxiv. 32.) Here may be seen the difference between human and divine consolation, between human and divine instruction. As long as the two disciples mutually endeavored to cheer and encourage one another, they could not shake off their depression; as long as they mutually endeavored to enlighten one another and find an explanation of the events of the last few days they could not dispel their doubts. But as soon as Jesus speaks to them their sadness is changed to gladness, their difficulties and doubts are elucidated. Hear what the author of the Imitation says: “When Jesus is with us all is well. When Jesus speaks not within, our comfort is naught; but if Jesus speaks only one word we feel great consolation.” (Imit. B. ii. ch. 8.)
Mark that, my soul, and in moments of distress and despondency, when doubts of the faith assail you and in all spiritual conflicts whatsoever, have recourse to Jesus: at such times a short prayer frequently proves more efficacious than the most sublime conversations and consultations with men, or the reading of the most admirable spiritual books.
3d. Consider the entreaty of the disciples: “Lord, stay with us, because it is now toward evening.” (St. Luke xxiv. 29.) At first the Lord made as if He would go further. He desired that they should themselves urge the request that He would stay with them, in order to furnish you with an instructive lesson. Although our Lord knows beforehand all our necessities and desires, although He is aware of every one of them, it is His will that we should first ask Him to grant us that which His love is ready to give unasked, and it is specially pleasing to Him if we seek the shelter of His protection when the shades of evening fall. If then the light of your faith begins to waver, if your hope is darkened, if the flame of your charity, of your zeal, of your virtue begins to wax dim, O delay not to have recourse to Him; pray Him: “Lord, abide with me, let not night close in upon me.” The reason why night comes down on so many souls and envelops them in the darkness wherein they are lost is because at the first approach of twilight they do not with the two disciples implore our Lord:
“Lord, stay with us!”
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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