Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
The community of faith continues in these weeks after Easter to rejoice in our new-found joy – Jesus is risen, he has conquered sin and death. Peter is one of the chief witnesses to all this and in the 1st Reading today we find him standing up fearlessly to evangelise the people – almost to harangue them -in the power of the Spirit of Pentecost. Then again in the 2nd reading today the liturgy turns to the Letter of Peter to instruct and nourish us in faith – `So that you would have faith and hope in God.`
The gospel chosen for today draws upon the resurrection stories of St. Luke.. These centre around the experience of Cleopas and his companion, the two disciples on that initially sad trip to Emmaus, some seven miles from Jerusalem.
Their experience is somewhat similar to that of Thomas – without the obstinate streak – whom we heard about last Sunday. Like so many people today they are tempted to and in fact do walk away from Christ whom they think has let them down. But Jesus is not shaken off so easily…He is walking along with them as they are walking away from the Church – which consisted of only a few people at the times – Mary, the apostles and a handful of disciples –including these two who were half in and half out.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus are simply depressed – they are waiting for someone to cheer them up, to give them hope , to offer them a reason to go on.The Irish writer and wit ,Oscar Wilde on a sober note this time reflecting on his many trials in his book `De Profundis` wrote:`Every man walks the road to Emmaus at least once in his lifetime`.And a Californian Carmelite colleague of mine once wrote a poem also echoing this scene, which contained the line :
`Breaking, breaking, breaking, not of bread.` and at the end of the poem he sighed..`.There is not even a stranger.` That last line suggests discouragement indeed .You would have thought that even at the worst of times you could have a word with the person standing with you in the queue at Woolworths or waiting with you in the doctor or dentist`s `s surgery.
The two disciples walked along that famous road on a tranquil evening, but they lived in another world.The did not hear the birds singing around them and the balmy air played idly on their faces. They lived in the past, a past that seemed to have provided them with rosy dreams which now lay shattered at their aching feet . (After al 12 Km is a long way to walk especially if you`re down. Does this not reflect our own experience in one way or another at least at times?
`Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free.` But for them he seemed to be just another loser.
Into this dismal scene the power of God gently intrudes itself, not to bulldoze them into belief, but to quietly and gently nudge them towards faith. The stranger spoke in such a way that imperceptibly their hearts began to be enkindle, burning away the pall of depression that covered them ..Our Carmelite Co-founder, John of the Cross has the same thought: One dark night, enkindled in love with yearnings..`
When I hear of young people suffering from depression it seems to me that they need to meet the risen Lord on the road they are traveling. I know that if I were their age in similar circumstances I would not survive without a living relationship with Christ whom I could meet in the Eucharist, in the breaking of bread as we are doing now.