Two Regular Guys

Today two regular guys were on a seven-mile run. Since neither were very good, they were walking. Just like the walk to Emmaus, they were discussing current events and all the things that had occurred. It happened that, while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him (they thought he was one of the runners). He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”

They both became sad. They said, “We are discussing the sad way of the world now. All we see is war and poverty. We see families breaking up, AIDS, and drug abuse destroying our young. We are wondering: where is God in all of this?”

The stranger said to them, “Guys, you are missing everything. God doesn’t say that everything will be well; he says that he will be with you whatever happens.” Then he explained how scripture says that God stays with us no matter what.

The race was coming to a close, and the two friends decided to stop and have dinner, since they weren’t going to win the race. They invited the stranger to join them. When they sat down to eat, the stranger took the bread, blessed it, and broke it. When he did, they recognized him as Jesus. Then they told everyone “what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”

This is my idea of what the walk to Emmaus would have looked like if it happened today. We can understand Cleopas and his companion. We look around the world, and, whenever we turn on the news, we see a horror story of war crime and a broken society.

Christ died and rose two thousand years ago. His apostles were thrilled with him. Yet most of them died a horrible martyr’s death.

The last hundred years have been horrible: two World Wars, the Holocaust, terrible diseases, dictators, and endless war. Sometimes we ask why Jesus came, and whether there has been a change for the better. It is very easy to despair, about which Fr. Rolheiser of San Antonio says this:

“Yet there is something else: the dream still clings to us, refusing to let us go. It burns holes in us still, hanging on to us, even when in infidelity and despair we can no longer hang on to it. Hope is still more real than death. In our hurt, we are struggling for words and grasping for trust. We need to remain on the road to Emmaus. The stranger still stalks that same road. In his company we need to discuss our doubts, discuss the scriptures and continually offer each other bread and consolation. At some moment too, our eyes will be opened. We will understand and we will recognize the risen Lord. Then the dream will explode anew like a flower bursting in bloom after a long winter. We will be full of a new innocence. Easter Sunday will happen again.”

The key to Easter Sunday happening again is the Mass. The Mass is the foundation of our faith. It is the air we breathe, and the food we drink. It is where we meet Jesus in the breaking of the bread. It is so important. Yet all too often we let less important things stand in the way: “Hey, it’s the Super Bowl, forget about the Mass.” or “I have family visiting, and can’t go to Mass.”

Here is a thought experiment: when you have house guests, or a big sporting event, do you stop breathing? What would happen if you did? A hint: don’t try this at home.

But Mass is more than just attendance. Mass should change you. At the end of Mass, a priest or deacon might say, “Go in peace to glorify the Lord with your life.” That is your cue to do just that.

Does drinking or premarital sex glorify God? No. On the other hand does reaching out to kids who are not in the in crowd glorify God? Yes. Do feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or visiting the sick glorify God? Yes they certainly do. What are you going to do, and not do, to glorify God this month?

Father Mike Van Cleve

Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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