Road to Emmaus
And this is a first great evangelical lesson. The successful evangelist does not stand aloof from the experience of sinners, passing easy judgment on them, praying for them from a distance; on the contrary, she loves them so much that she joins them and deigns to walk in their shoes and to feel the texture of their experience. Prompted by Jesus’ curious questions, one of the travelers, Cleopas by name, recounts all of the “things” concerning Jesus of Nazareth. “He was a prophet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people; our leaders, though, put him to death; we thought he would be the redeemer of Israel; this very morning, there were reports that he had risen from the dead.” Cleopas has all of the “facts” straight; there is not one thing he says about Jesus that is wrong. But his sadness and his flight from Jerusalem testify that he doesn’t see the picture. I love the clever and funny cartoons in the New Yorker magazine, but occasionally there is a cartoon I just don’t understand. I’ve taken in all of the details; I’ve seen the main characters and the objects around them; I’ve understood the caption. Yet I don’t see why it’s funny. And then there comes a moment of illumination: though I haven’t seen any further detail, though no new piece of the puzzle has emerged, I discern the pattern that connects them together in a meaningful way. In a word, I “get” the cartoon. Having heard Cleopas’ account, Jesus says, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets said.” And then he opens the Scriptures to them, disclosing the great Biblical patterns that make sense of the “things” that they have witnessed. Without revealing to them any new detail about himself, Jesus shows them the form, the overarching design, the meaning—and through this process they begin to “get” him: their hearts are burning within them.
This is the second great evangelical lesson. The successful evangelist uses the Scriptures in order to disclose the divine patterns and ultimately the Pattern who is made flesh in Jesus. Without these clarifying forms, human life is a hodge-podge, a blur of events, a string of meaningless happenings. The effective evangelist is a man of the Bible, for the Scripture is the means by which we “get” Jesus Christ and, through him, our lives. The two disciples press him to stay with them as they draw near the town of Emmaus. Jesus sits down with them, takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it and gives it to them, and in that moment, they recognize him. Though they were, through the mediation of Scripture, beginning to see, they still did not fully grasp who he was. But in the eucharistic moment, in the breaking of the bread, their eyes are opened. The ultimate means by which we understand Jesus Christ is not the Scripture but the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is Christ himself, personally and actively present. The embodiment of the paschal mystery, the Eucharist is Jesus’ love for the world unto death, his journey into godforsakenness in order to save the most desperate of sinners, his heart broken open in compassion. And this is why it is through the lens of the Eucharist that Jesus comes most fully and vividly into focus.
And thus, we see the third great evangelical lesson. Successful evangelists are persons of the Eucharist. They are immersed in the rhythms of the Mass; they practice eucharistic adoration; they draw the evangelized to a participation in the body and blood of Jesus. They know that bringing sinners to Jesus Christ is never primarily a matter of personal witness, or inspiring sermonizing, or even exposure to the patterns of the Scripture. It is primarily a matter of seeing the broken heart of God through the broken bread of the Eucharist.
So prospective evangelists, do what Jesus did. Walk with sinners, open the Book, break the Bread. Even if they be are leaders!
We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Indeed, you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me Wisdom. O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Through the merits of Thy precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.
Prayer in Honor of the Dolors of the Blessed Virgin
O Most Holy and afflicted Virgin, Queen of Martyrs! Who stood beneath the cross, witnessing the agony of your dying Son, look down with a mother’s tenderness and pity on us as we kneel before you to venerate your Dolors, and place our requests, with filial confidence, in the sanctuary of your wounded heart. Present them on our behalf to Jesus, through the merits of His most sacred Passion and Death, together with your sufferings at the foot of the cross, and through the united efficacy of both, obtain the favor which we humbly ask. To whom shall we go in our wants and miseries if not to you. O Mother of Mercy, who having so deeply drunk of the chalice of your Son, graciously alleviate the sufferings of those who still sigh in this land of exile. Amen.
Prayer to the Souls in Purgatory
My Jesus, by the sorrows you suffered in your agony in the garden, in your scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in your crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in Purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken. Deliver them from the dire torments they endure. Call them and admit them to your most sweet embrace in Paradise. Amen.
Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary’s, (1) Glory Be.
O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)
Lent begins next Wednesday
During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to sacrifice self-control through fasting. Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God's gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446).
The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.