Easter Emmaus Encounter

This past week has been a tough week for us in here in Canada. Not only do we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic we also were dealt the blow of home-grown terror with the killings in Nova Scotia. These two very different events have impacted us and have caused grief to settle in again in profound and unusual ways. As we continue to move forward each day of this pandemic and as we offer support and prayers for Nova Scotia and the families directly affected, I offer a reflection based on the Easter Emmaus Encounter.

An Emmaus Examination of Living for the Now

The Emmaus Road gospel story which is found in Luke 24: 13 – 35. It has much to ponder and offers us insights and a way to examen our living not only in this time of pandemic and sorrow but also in our “regular everyday” lives. There are several lines which jumped off the page for me, which caused me to sit with this gospel and let its wisdom penetrate my life. It is in examining our lives where we can then see steps forward and again give thanks and praise.

 

“talking with each other about all these things that had happened…”

We do a lot of talking in our life and now during the pandemic restrictions maybe even more so and in new social media and socially acceptable ways. We are talking a lot about what has and is happening; this is exhausting. I have had to ask myself: am I talking about anything that is life-giving, stirring my heart, calling me to be quiet instead of yakking about what everyone else is talking about to make myself feel okay? When I’m talking with people, I am being a voice which is kind, a voice of comfort, a voice of hope? Am I telling those closest to me how much I love them or I am waiting for another moment when we are talking about something else or another tragedy hits “closer” to home?

 

“their eyes were kept from recognizing him…”

I wonder how true this has been for me in the last few weeks? Have my eyes been blinded to how Christ is present and how he is speaking to me? What truths are arising? What uncomfortable realities am I facing?

 

“handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him…”

What has died in me?

What has been crucified again now?

Have I been condemning to death?

What have I grieved because of this time which feels like crucifixion not resurrection?

These are uneasy questions to ask and yet I have been able answer them for my own journey. How am I serving, my own darkness, what steps forward, the coldness of murder, in trying to be strong, as a coping mechanism, freedoms, lack of human contact, relationships changing again, and not being able to gather in the larger community for Eucharist all come to mind for my answers.

 

“they had indeed seen a vision of Angels who said that he was alive…”

This is a little nugget of hope. I hold on to the last three words. They serve as a reminder that resurrection is stronger than death and darkness and is always possible and at work.

 

“how slow of heart to believe…”

Yes! My slowness of heart, has been where I like to sit and wallow, this place of contentment in misery, this place of why and why not, this place of “I can see the big picture but it’s blurry and so very slowly coming into focus.”

And yet this place is a fleeting moment because I come back to “he is alive!” I know this slowness of heart is about transformation and being opened up to more and about depth and honesty and freedom.

Where has my slowness of heart surfaced in the last few days?

What does transformation feel like to me today?

“they urged him strongly, saying, “stay with us”…”

Yes Lord, stay with us! In this place here and now, in this reality and in our deep sorrow, in the shifting

into a new normal, in the letting go of what has become normal in this time, in our hopes shattered and yet in our hope, in our fears, dreams, plans, prayers, whispers and pleas… stay with us.

 

“he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them… their eyes were opened and they recognized him…”

Where have I been recognizing the Risen Lord at work in these past few weeks?

How has bread been blessed and broken for me? Maybe I have been blessing and breaking it for others?

What has been nourishing me?

What has broken me? And what has broken me so I can again rise to new life and see with new eyes?

Am I recognizing the blessings in and among the trials of these uncertain and yet familiar times? In the stories and heartache shared?

 

Bread nourishment – meals shared – messages sent – a board game played – a video enjoyed – a front step delivery left – yes, nourishment – bread for the body and soul.

Blessedholy – gift – grace – simple – appreciated – needed – present among us.

Broken for me, for you, for all, for life, for newness.

Given for me, for you, for all, for life, for newness.

Opened to begin again, freshness, aware, depth, freedom, again and again.

“The Lord is risen indeed… made known in the breaking of the bread.”

Yes! Indeed, our Risen Lord is present. He is our strength, courage and hope. The words of our prayers carried in his once broken now glorified body. Our struggles and longings, our tiredness and aches, our yearning and anguish continually held in the glorious light of his Risen body – all of us – his body – blessed – broken – given. Together as one, together we are stronger, together we walk our path of life which is the path of the Resurrection Day. We are raised up, we see again, we know our Savior in the breaking of the bread.

How do I need to break bread today so the Risen Lord may be made known? with who? for who?

Can I do this with hope and trust?

 

Risen Lord,
you are indeed with us,
when we forget this
you gently awaken our slow hearts
and let the yeast of goodness take hold
and transform us.

As we continue on in these days,
facing new realities, letting go of plans,
feeling sorrow, talking and walking
lost at times in a cloud of unknowing
walk with us,
open our minds and hearts
to the depth of your love and the promise
you made that you are with us always.

And Risen Lord
as we sit down to table to share in a meal
help us to be aware that you dine with us,
you break bread with us,
for you are our nourishment now,
and in the Eucharist
and at the eternal banquet.

Amen.

Emmaus

Stay with us
let us dine
stories shared
enjoying and feasting.

Bread broken
it is the Lord
made known to us
our hearts alive.

Our lives transformed
hope abounds
good news indeed
He is Risen.

Our hearts on fire
we must share more
our mission inflamed
joy and courage as gift.

In word
in deeds
in broken bread
Christ is made known.

 

 

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About the author

Friar Michael Perras, OFM was born and raised in Saskatchewan, the oldest of four. In a small rural community with plenty of extended family nearby he learned about service and community while growing up in his parent’s grocery store. Friar Michael appreciates quiet moments of prayer to begin the day. He also enjoys tinkering in the chapel, Christmas, learning from the lives of the saints, being creative in the kitchen, a good run, a good song, setting a good table for celebrations, and lingering meals with conversation. One of his greatest joys is being an uncle and a godfather. Prior to joining the Franciscans, he served in several communities as a Youth Minister and Pastoral Assistant. Friar Michael holds certificates in youth ministry, lay ministry, liturgical studies, and spiritual direction along with a Bachelor of Theology degree. Solemnly professed friar since August 2019. He is a non-ordained Franciscan brother currently ministering as part of the retreat team at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre.

Last updated: November 22, 2021

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