Mass at Emmaus


Given at the Mass at Emmaus on 7th November 2017, during the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

As we prepare to head home, we celebrate this Mass at Emmaus. In the Judean desert, we saw the bedouin who are nomads. They move from oasis to oasis looking for water and pasture for their goats and sheep. Today many people are spiritual nomads looking for pleasure and happiness and always moving to the next thing. We saw many tourists in Jerusalem who took photographs and kept looking for the next thing to do. We travel as pilgrims so we come to this land to find new meaning as Christians and to walk in the footsteps of Christ. We know the destination to where we are heading though we do not always know what will happen on the way.  

The first reading presents an image of the destination that we seek:  the new Jerusalem, the City of God, the new heavens and the new earth, where Christ reigns in glory. The Lamb of God shines out over the city. Justice, peace and joy are found in abundance. In that City there will be no more tears, no more weeping and mourning; peace will dwell within. We look forward to this place of peace but know that both we and the world are far from it.

As pilgrims, we have glimpsed moments of this joy and happiness but also know divisions in relationships, hurt, and brokenness. We have seen how Jerusalem is divided into four quarters, two states, a city of checkpoints and walls. Division and conflict dominate in contrast to the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. People yearn for the peace of a new Jerusalem. There is so much conflict to be healed.  

The two disciples, who had walked away from Jerusalem bewildered and afraid, met Christ who walked with them along the road and explained the scriptures to them so that their hearts burned from within. This morning I am sure that your hearts and mine are burning with many memories, feelings as we prepare to leave the Holy Land. The scriptures speak to us and help us understand how we are sent out as missionary disciples to share this hope with others. Here, at Emmaus, Christ breaks the bread and the disciples understand that Christ is Risen from the dead. Then he vanishes from their sight. He tells his disciples, ‘Go to Galilee and you will see me there.’ He is saying to us: return to your homes and you will find that I am there and have gone before you. Go back to your parishes and communities, to your places of work and there you will find me. We are sent out as missionary disciples to tell others and to witness to what we have seen and heard. 

The journey of disciples to Emmaus reminds us that we know that there are many other people we know who are still walking away from Jerusalem, away from the Church, away into the night and feel lost and bewildered. Pope Francis tells us that we must walk with them, listen to them, accompany them so that Christ may break again into their lives. It is a walk which requires patience and love. 

We know that Jesus the Good Shepherd walks with us, leads us, carries us, lovingly prods us at times but is with us with his love. As he sees us with the eyes of mercy, we are invited to see others with the gaze of mercy, especially those who are poor and weak, isolated and vulnerable. 

As we leave this Mass we are sent out as foot washers. We are sent to wash the feet of others as he washed his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper and continues to wash our feet with his care and mercy as he accompanies us home and to live more deeply in him.  

Go in peace glorifying the Lord with your lives.