The Road to Emmaus: Journey of a Missionary Community Church

Fervent Hearts, Feet on the Path (cf. Lk 24,13-35)

"Fervent Hearts, Feet on the Path" (cf. Lk 24,13-35) is the title chosen by Pope Francis for the World Mission Sunday (DOMUND) 2023. This phrase, inspired by the story of the disciples at Emmaus, is familiar to us. Today, we will try to delve into some details, from a missionary perspective.

Jesus conveys a message of hope to the disciples-community, who are defeated and wounded. Luke tells us about two disciples. This number is significant, referring to a domestic church: "where two or three are gathered in my name"... (Mt 18,20). Cleopas is the one who speaks up (Lk 24,18) when they are questioned by the "stranger" who joins them on the road. This leads scholars to think that it involves a family-community or local church steeped in sadness and disappointment, represented by Cleopas and, very likely, his wife, who remains silent.

In the words of Pope Francis, "the Lord, whom the disciples did not recognize, began to explain the Scriptures to them and started a 'therapy of hope'."

The road to Emmaus is thus the path of a church-community on the move and in missionary outreach. Emmaus tells us that the Christian community is not enclosed within a fortified city, but walks in its most vital environment, namely the street. The encounter with the Crucified-Resurrected sets our feet on the path. It is interesting that these disciples (and all of us are represented in them), do not recognize the "stranger" walking alongside them. It is Jesus, God-with-us, walking side by side. The encounter with the Resurrected does not occur only in the breaking of the bread, it starts with listening to the Scriptures; listening that takes place in the world, amid difficulties, in the challenges of each day.
As a community, we must listen to one another and hear everyone's stories, as Jesus, the Resurrected, does. Listen, then offer the Word of life, the testimony of love, faithful love until the end. And then people's hearts again start to burn with hope. All of us, in our lives, have had tough times, dark moments; times when we walked sad, pensive, without a horizon. And Jesus is always with us to give us hope, to light up our hearts and tell us: "Keep going, I am with you. Keep going because now your fervent heart is full of joy."

Do you want to be part of the Emmaus church-community? Get on the path! Notice that they set out carrying their ailments; and it is the Lord Himself who comes to meet them. Get moving, and listen. Get moving and look carefully around you. The departure is from the Jerusalem of sorrow for the death of the master and friend, until meeting the Resurrected, and letting His Life and Love flood our lives. And there, when the heart is filled with Joy, with authentic evangelical joy, we are sent back to the Jerusalem-world-of-difficulties. We are not missionaries to an ideal world of castles and fantasies. We are disciple-missionaries to proclaim in this broken and suffering world, another possible world! To the Jerusalem that cries out loud, we are sent!

The secret of the road that leads to Emmaus is all this: although it may seem otherwise, we continue to be loved, and God will never stop loving us dearly. God will always walk with us, even in the most painful moments, even in moments of defeat: the Lord is there, God-with-us. Let's move forward with this hope, because He is by our side, walking with us.

Questions for Reflection

At which part of the road to Emmaus do I find myself: leaving Jerusalem, defeated and downcast? Attentive to the appearance and meeting of the Master-Resurrected? Listening to His Words? Recognizing Him in the scriptures and the breaking of the bread? Returning to the world-Jerusalem with a fervent heart of love and feet on the mission path?
Look at the image accompanying this text. What elements catch your attention the most? What does each symbol represent?
Finally, reread the text of the disciples at Emmaus and stay in silence, asking God for the grace to encounter the Resurrected today, who breaks the bread for you and explains the scriptures.