The Gospel of today's Mass presents us with another apparition of Jesus on the same Easter evening.
Two disciples are on their way to their village, Emmaus, having lost the virtue of hope because Christ, in whom they had placed the whole meaning of their lives, has died. The Lord, as if He were also on the way, catches up with them and joins them without being recognized1. The conversation has a broken tone, as when one speaks while walking. They speak to each other about what concerns them: what happened in Jerusalem on Friday evening, the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The crucifixion of the Lord had been a serious test of the hopes of all those who considered themselves his disciples and who, to one degree or another, had placed their trust in him. Everything had developed with great rapidity, and they had not yet recovered from what their eyes had seen.
These who return to their village, after having celebrated the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem, show their immense sadness, their despair and bewilderment through conversation: We had hoped that he would redeem Israel, they say. Now they speak of Jesus as of a past reality: About Jesus the Nazarene, who was a mighty prophet.... "Notice this contrast. They say: (...) "That it was!"... And they have him beside them, he is walking with them, he is in their company inquiring into the reason, the intimate roots of their sadness!
"That it was...", they say. If we were to make a sincere examination, a careful examination of our sadness, of our discouragements, of our being back from life, we would find a clear link with this Gospel passage. We would find that we spontaneously say: "Jesus was...", "Jesus said...", because we forget that, as on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is alive at our side right now. This rediscovery enlivens faith, revives hope, it is a discovery that points us to Christ as a present joy: Jesus is, Jesus prefers; Jesus says; Jesus commands, now, right now". Jesus lives.
These men knew the promise of Christ about his Resurrection on the third day. They had heard in the morning the message of the women who had seen the empty tomb and the angels. They had had enough clarity to nourish their faith and their hope; nevertheless, they speak of Christ as something past, as a lost occasion. They are the living image of discouragement. Their intelligence is darkened and their heart dulled.
Christ himself - whom they do not recognize at first, but whose company and conversation they accept - interprets those events to them in the light of the Scriptures. With patience, he restores their faith and hope. And those two also regain joy and love: "Is it not true," they say later, "that we felt our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?
It is possible that we too sometimes find ourselves discouraged and lacking in hope in the face of defects that we have not been able to uproot, in the face of difficulties in the apostolate or in our work that seem insurmountable.... On these occasions, if we allow ourselves to be helped, Jesus will not allow us to turn away from him. Perhaps it is in spiritual direction that, by opening our souls with sincerity, we will once again see the Lord. With Him always comes joy and the desire to start again as soon as possible: And they rose up in haste and returned to Jerusalem.... But it is necessary to let ourselves be helped, to be ready to be docile to the advice we receive.