YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: THE ROAD TO EMMAUS, A ROAD TO NOWHERE
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Acts 2:14. 22-23
Second reading – 1 Pt. 1:17-21
Gospel – Lk 24:13-35
The road to Emmaus reminds me one of my favorite morale during my military training:
“See o see o Layilayila
See o see o Layilayila
Where we go Layilayila
We don’t know Layilaliya”
I became interested in trying to figure out the location (both in the ancient and modern times) and the features of this village being referred to as Emmaus in St Luke’s gospel. Some opinion hold that it can no longer be traced clearly. It could be that the village of Emmaus, its location today is unknown. There are several places that may be the site of this ancient village but the evidence in each case seems inconclusive. At any rate, this Emmaus, the narrative tells us, was about sixty furlongs – some six miles and a half – from the holy city. It was situated east-south-east from Jerusalem.
I also made an attempt to find out if the word “Emmaus” has any significance. While some say that it derives its name from an ancient general, and so on, it is interesting to know that some have it also to mean “a hot spring” as it is connected with the modern Arabic term Hammam (a bath), and indicates probably, like the Latin Aquae, or the French Aix, and the English “Bath,” or “Wells”.
Hmm! This association with the stream further caught my attention, and informed my memory to remember a story which truly happened. The story is not unpopular among villagers in my locality. Once, there was an elderly village man who rode on his bicycle in a scotching sun, going to the stream to fetch some water. The stream was located down a valley so rough and sloppy that most people, for safety, would prefer pushing along their bicycles to ridding on it. It was a risky decision made by the old man on that day, to descend the slope on his rickety bicycle. It was not funny when the unexpected happened. Along the way, the breaks linkage of the bicycle broke off. As he was hopelessly descending the slope on an unimaginable speed, he could not but began to chant allowed: “I [N] now belong to the dead, I [N] now belong to the dead”.
Tell me, to where is the whole world descending for the past three months if not to that hopeless road best described as EMMAUS? Everything that once made meaning suddenly became meaningless. Everything which once gave us hope suddenly became hopeless. Social distancing cuts us off out best friends and neighbor’s. Locked down out of travels for holidays and sight seeing, we are dying in loneliness and boredom. We wash our hands many times a day not because food is ready but because of one tiny unseen enemy. There is no food on our tables, no money in our pockets; and as in Raskimono’s description in “under pressure”, some are dying, some are wailing, in the cities, in the ghettos. And if you run to the Church to commit your worries to God, the Church is locked. There’s no pastor, no prophet, no priests. Soldiers are out there, though some of them are still at the war front facing death every second. Doctors too are getting locked out. The worst is that we don’t know how long it will last. We are alive but like the bicycle man in my story, we all now belong to the dead. We are headed for Emmaus, the road to nowhere. Is there any hope?
Let’s check, while the disciples were moving along in utter confusion and difficulty in understanding, like the whole world in this trying time, Jesus came to be with them. That was when they had a direction and hope revived in them. Nothing but the presence of Christ could give such a journey like ours today a meaning, a direction, and a hope. What is clear is that at one time or another in our lives, we may encounter an “Emmaus road” situation. By this I mean those moments when left on our own, we discover that our human efforts cannot give our life a meaning or make us regain our direction. Had the risen Lord not joined the two men, I suppose they were not only losing the understanding of the way which they had followed for so long, their journey was a journey of hopelessness which was no longer having any aim. Your hopeless Emmaus road could be that you just received a sack letter from your job and you don’t know where next the direction is. It could be that you just lost someone who might have been the bread winner of the family or the only source of your consolation. It could be that you just failed an examination. Any hopeless situation fits right into this road to Emmaus. The appearance of Jesus to join us as He joined his disciples brings hope and direction in such despondent moment.
Most times, Jesus is beside us yet like the disciples, we take him to be a stranger. One would ask how may we find God especially now that the Church is locked? It becomes necessary too, that we invite him over as they did: “they pressed him to stay with them”: – Lk 24:29. To discover Him at the breaking of bread means that light has shown at the end of the tunnel. If we invite Him, He will certainly come in. If He comes, we shall discover Him; and if we discover Him, our lost hope would be revived again. His promises are: “Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal side by side with him”. Rev. 3:20. Come Lord Jesus. Come and remain with us.