On the Way

By Mary Flick, CSJ

Today’s readings are full of encouragement for us on our own journey of faith, of life. In the first reading, Peter gives his first major address after the disciples have received the Spirit. He looks back in their Jewish faith history and finds in the writings of David a foretelling of the resurrection of Christ. Peter continues his instruction in the second reading, to all of us, “during the time of your sojourning,” reminding all that “your faith and hope are in God.”

We Easter wanderers find ourselves “on the way” as we listen to the Gospel today. The journey to Emmaus is the story of Every Christian’s sojourn. The road is full of conversations and debates, questions and disappointments and disbelief. Even though God walks among us, we often are unable to recognize God in the ordinariness of our lives. And when confronted by suffering and loss, we, like Cleopas, leave the place but not the experience of pain. We, too, give up hope. Astounded by what seems impossible – that Jesus “was alive” – we, like these disciples, do not always remain in community to find out for ourselves. Overcome by grief, we, with the two, have headed for home.

But Jesus keeps their stride, though they do not recognize him. Despite their pace on the road, the disciples are “slow of heart” to believe what their faith has always taught. The Stranger is familiar with their collective story and, beginning with Moses, unpacks their story of faith. The Teacher is going farther than the two were ready to go – both in their understanding and on the road. But there is something warm and attractive in his teaching; the two insist that their Companion “stay with us.”

Gathered at table, the Invited Guest repeats a ritual they have seen before: on the hillside when the 5,000 were fed. It is the same ritual that Jesus had used at the Passover meal just days earlier. He took the bread, blessed, broke and gave it to them. In the brokenness of the bread and of life, they know the fullness of Christ. They who were slow of heart now find their “hearts burning within.” Having experienced His presence, they return to the community, who confirms what they now know: “The Lord has truly been raised.”

“On the way” – on the Christian way of life – Jesus, who is The Way, is made known in the breaking of bread. Of this we are all witnesses. It is our Easter sureity.