I heard about this beautiful analogy in comparison of the Mass to the Road to Emmaus journey found in the Gospel of Luke 24: 13-35 this Friday night at youth group, and I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you.
In this story, two of Christ's followers were walking the road to Emmaus, a town about seven miles away from Jerusalem. The topic of discussion is, of course, the death and passion of the Lord that has recently occurred. Suddenly, a man joins the companions and walks with them. Unknown to them, this new traveler is Christ himself. He asks what the men are talking about and they probably looked at him as if he was crazy. They ask him, "Are you the only one who has been visiting Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have happened these days?"
Jesus plays dumb and asks, "What things?" The men go on to explain how Christ was supposed to be savior of the people of God, but even though he spoke of the Kingdom of God, he was still handed over to the Chief Priests who brutally murdered him. To make things even more confusing, they said they knew some women who had been to the tomb that very day, the third day, and came back saying Christ was alive. They probably looked to Christ for confirmation of the women' insanity, but he shocks them.
He turns to them and says, "How foolish you are and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken? Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? Then he went on to explain, from the beginning of the Bible, all the way to their current time, the prophesies concerning the Lord.
Then they reached their destination, and they begged their companion to stay with them for a meal. It was finally that they clued in about the very presence of the Lord when He broke bread with them. They asked each other "Where not our hearts burning within us when He talked with us on the road?" Christ had left, but they returned to Jerusalem to tell the 11 about how Christ had appeared to them.
They. Returned. Immediately. They did not wait until morning and the roads were safe, and they had rested and ate their fill. No, the desire to share the light of Christ was stronger then anything else. This is similar to how the apostles in today's Gospel left behind everything RIGHT AWAY and left to follow Christ.
Now look at the Mass. We come to the Mass and we all have our burdens that we carry and discuss. Work was trying. School was crazy. Relationships are struggling. Friendships need mending. We come to Mass with something to get off our chest. We want to talk to someone about how we can live a Christian life in a world broken and torn. We come into Mass and here is the Lord in the tabernacle. He doesn't look like much....most of the time we don't even recognize Him as He is under the appearance of the host. We began to tell Him all of our problems and He stops us.
"Oh ye of little faith...do you not think I know of the day to day occurrences of your life? Do you not know that I have a plan for you?" And then He, through the words of the lectors and cantors, brings the liturgy of the word to life. We read two readings from the Bible as well as a Psalm and things come together. We hear God's very words in the Gospel, and then things are explained through the scripture.
And then comes the liturgy of the Eucharist....the source and summit of Christian life. And, just like the two on the road to Emmaus, we should have our eyes opened to the true presence of Christ. Not a symbol, but the Lord Himself. When we leave the Mass, our hearts should be on fire for a God who died to get to know you.
And when we leave from the Mass, we shouldn't go back to comfort. "Oh, well I'll get to Christian living when I don't have to do anything else." On the contrary....we should leave every Mass more in line with Christ and His love for us every time. Every Mass should change our hearts and mold them to God.
God grant us the grace to let every encounter with you in the Eucharist set our hearts ablaze for you!