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The Emmaus Miracle

Jesus Christ is Risen! 

Today’s gospel is the story of the appearance of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, a story very dear to our hearts at St. Louis because of the Emmaus retreat which began here almost 45 years ago and has spread throughout the archdiocese, around the country and to many countries throughout the world.  Before the Covid 19 virus, our parish was working in Cuba to start the Emmaus there.  (Side note: In colonial times, Florida was a part of the Diocese of Santiago de Cuba and bishops form there came to do Confirmations in Florida.  Now we can return the favor in helping them to establish the Emmaus in Cuba.  The cardinal and bishops of Cuba  have been most grateful for our assistance.)

This important story in the New Testament formed the foundation of the retreat.  It also provides a structure for Church life and for the Eucharist itself.  Three elements stand out: community, scripture and meal.

Community. In the original gospel story the risen Jesus, unrecognized, walks along with two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  These were disciples, not just people, who knew what happened in Jerusalem.  These disciples had probably accompanied Jesus one week prior on Palm Sunday, when so many people cheered for Jesus.

They must has thought that everything looked good for Jesus and for them, because they were this winner’s disciples.  But then everything went downhill.  During the week that followed, Jesus drove out the money changers and sellers from the temple, and he made any enemies.  He was arguing with Jewish leaders at the beginning of the week.  By Thursday night he was arrested.  By Friday night, he was dead.  By Sunday these two disciples were ready to leave; they had nothing left, as they explained: “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).  This same desperation we hear so often in life.  “We hoped that the test would come back negative.”  “We hoped that she would have lived.”

“We hope that I could find a new job.”  Those disciples like us often feel discouraged with the way that life works out.  In this discussion they are forming a small community.  Jesus does not speak before he has listened to the story of their lives.  They feel comfortable talking to him about their deepest problems.

Scripture. Jesus used Old Testament scriptures to help them understand the past week of their life.  Scriptures give light to life; they do not just tell us of ancient history.

Meal. When Jesus broke the bread for them, they recognized him. And then they returned to Jerusalem to share the good news with the believers there.

This pattern repeats itself in the Emmaus retreat.  People form community by sharing stories of their lives or by bearing witness to how the Lord has worked with them.  The retreat uses scriptures to help people understand what is happening in their lives.  They eat together many meals that reinforce their bond with each other and their experience of the Lord  They also share the sacred meal of the Eucharist where the Lord can reveal himself.

This pattern of Emmaus also forms the structure of the Church.  We form a community together to share the story of our lives with each other and to let the scriptures guide us.  At the Eucharist the Church can experience the risen Christ.

We can see this pattern in every Eucharist.  A community of brothers and sisters gather to hear the Word of God in the scriptures and to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

He is Risen Indeed!

Fr. Paul Image

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Paul Vuturo