Chuyến đi về Emmaus

Tối qua anh Việt gọi điện thoại đến mời mình dâng lễ chiều thứ bảy ở giáo xứ của anh. Mình đồng ý và lật sách ra xem các bài đọc và bài Phúc Âm của tuần thứ ba mùa Phục Sinh là gì? Hóa ra là câu chuyện về chuyến đi về Emmau của hai môn đệ của Chúa Giêsu.

Sáng nay, thức dậy sớm, mình soạn một bài chia sẻ để chuẩn bị cho thánh lễ cuối tuần. Mình hy vọng rằng những ý tưởng trong bài chia sẻ sẽ giúp cho người nghe vượt qua được những đau buồn và khó nhọc trong cuộc sống để nhận ra rằng Chúa Kitô Phục Sinh đang đồng hành với họ trong cuộc sống. Chỉ có điều nhiều khi mình chưa nhận ra Ngài mà thôi. Nếu mình nhận ra Ngài, mình sẽ cảm nhận được niềm vui thực sự, niềm vui lâu dài, chứ không phải là niềm vui thoang thoảng vui qua chống hết sau khi mùa Phục Sinh đã trôi qua và mọi sự trở lại "bình thường" trong cuộc sống.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it has been 15 days since we celebrated Easter Sunday. How many of us are beginning to feel like the Easter spirit and joy is beginning to fade away? By next week, this Easter feeling is going to be mere traces. And then, everything is gone. If we want to rekindle that Easter feeling again, we'd have to wait for another year. In the meantime, we wade through life in our ordinary ways, with our work and our responsibilities, and our familiar mistakes and shortcomings.

Have you wondered why this feeling fades away so soon? I think it’s because a lot of times, we never really allowed ourselves to feel the joy of Easter in our heart. As we hear the preaching about Jesus dying for us, and how he rose from the dead after three days, as we saw the celebrations, the candles, and the decorations; as we heard the songs and the choir singing Alleluia --we kinda got excited and felt like something was stirring in our heart. But in reality, we never really felt truly joyful about Christ’s resurrection. We only go along with the crowd because that’s what the church says we’re supposed to feel.

Sisters and brothers, if what I’m saying fits somewhat with what you’re feeling, you’re probably not alone. I think many of us are this way. Easter comes, and easter goes. We get a little excited by all the hoopla around the celebration, but that excitement doesn’t last very long.

In some ways, many of us are feeling the same way the two disciples feel as they travel to Emmaus. They are dejected because their hopes and dreams haven’t come true. They are disappointed because their leader has been put to death. They’re like a snake with its head chopped off. It twists around spasmodically without any direction. Even when Jesus appears to them on the road, they cannot recognize him because their mind and heart is immersed in misery.

Like the disciples, some of us are wounded by our past, our history, and our unrealized expectations. Some of us suffer from disappointment and a lack of direction in life. We go to Mass on Sundays, celebrate the Eucharist but we don’t see Christ. We journey through Lent, and the Easter season, but we don’t feel joy.

Like the disciples, we are journeying, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, with heavy hearts and heavy burdens. Yet, what I would like to share with you today is that this journey does not have to continue forever this way. Whether we sense it or not, Jesus is there traveling with us. Perhaps, it is in a way that we don’t recognize or sense at first. But he is there, trying to educate us,
Trying to help us understand about who he is, and what is the meaning of his death and resurrection for our lives, and for the life of the world.

What we have to remember is that sometimes Christ appears to us in ways that we don’t expect, and we must allow ourselves to be open to all the possible ways
that He may be with us. The disciples recognized Christ when he broke bread with them in the evening meal. Chist is indeed with us in the Word. Christ is truly with us in the Eucharist. And Christ is with us in many other wonderful ways in our life. But we will only know what those ways are if we allow ourselves to believe in this reality.

There is a painting in a museum by the Dutch painter, Rembrandt, of Jesus sitting at table between the two disciples. The painting tries to capture the rapturous joy on the faces of the disciples at the moment when they recognized Jesus. A guide would explain that painting to visitors by telling the story behind it, the story we just heard, in a routine kind of way. Then his wife got cancer and died a slow, agonizing death. He could see absolutely no meaning in her terrible suffering and untimely death. It was as if the world had come to an end for him.

Nevertheless, he was persuaded to go back to work at the museum. Once again he found himself telling the story, only more mechanically than before. Then one day something clicked inside him, and suddenly he realized that the story was not just about those two forlorn disciples but about him too. Like the two disciples, he was going down a sad and lonely road. Even though he was a believer, regrettably, up to that point Jesus had been little more than a shadowy figure who lived only in the pages of the Gospels.

But now Jesus came alive for him. He felt his presence at his side,
the presence of a friend who knew all about human suffering. “It was as if my eyes were opened and I saw things differently,” he told a friend. “My heart began to burn within me. As I went on telling the story, a healing process was at work inside me. Even though at times I’m still fragile, I have begun to hope and live again.”

Sisters and brothers in Christ, each of us have our own stories of pain and disappointment. But as we make our personal life journeys, healing is possible if we know that Christ himself also suffered at the hands of wickedness, betrayal, and disappointment. But Christ himself overcame death and returned to life.
And Christ himself seeks out those who are still suffering in order to comfort them and help them overcome hopelessness and despair, helping them to again feel joy inside knowing that the dark road on which they travel will brighten up,
will have flowers growing on either sides of the path, and the one waiting for them at the end of their journey is none other than the Resurrected Christ.

As we prepare to break bread in this Eucharist and share in the body and blood of Jesus Christ, let us remember and know that in this bread and wine, there is the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ –
The one who lived 33 years as a man;
The one who preached the beautitudes to us in his sermon on the mount;
The one who carried the cross on which he was hung to die;
The one who went out of the tomb as the Resurrected Christ;
The one who walked alongside the two disciples to teach and comfort them
As they made their forlorn journey away from Jerusalem;
And….sisters and brothers,
The one who is traveling side by side with each and everyone of us in our life.

Do you recognize him?
If you do, may you feel great joy, truly great joy, in your heart,
Because this is the Resurrected Christ -
Who is the source of our hope and our salvation.

Macquarie Fields, NSW, AU, ngày 3.4.2008

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