Easter time is a special, joyful season. It is a time to celebrate and grow in faith by encountering God anew in our daily living. It is a time to remember that despite our challenges, bad moments, and difficulties in life, God is always with us.
Easter is a time to experience our personal Emmaus encounters. It is a time for realizing that Jesus is walking with us, leading us to God’s Kingdom. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts to receive from those Emmaus encounters the blessings they offer to us.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, the first disciples were full of grief and doubt, and struggling to find meaning in their lives. Yet, it was in the context of sadness and lack of meaning that Christ was most present to them.
During this trying time, a disciple named Cleopas was walking towards Emmaus with another disciple when they met Jesus. They did not recognize him, and discussed their sadness at recent events with him. Unbeknownst to them, it is Jesus whom they invite to join them at supper at night in Emmaus.
According to the Gospel of Luke, it was only after Jesus broke the bread to share with them that they recognized him. After this very personal encounter with Christ and other such encounters by Peter and the other disciples were they able to give testimony and proclaim very boldly that Christ is indeed the Savior of the world.
Easter is the time for the Christian community to continue proclaiming Christ’s message that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of brothers and sisters, peace, and love.
A few years ago, while I was in Los Angeles to share with people the mission work that Maryknoll missioners do around the world, a priest friend of mine asked me to celebrate a Mass at a church in Santa Monica. When I arrived at the church to prepare for Mass, there was one person there, praying in silence. I recognized her as one of the Eucharistic ministers at that church, who often brings Holy Communion to the sick. I sat down next to her to say hello. She was very happy to see me. She said that she and husband would celebrate their 60 year wedding anniversary the next week. I congratulated her for it and ask her how all those many years had been for them. She told me that she had eight children and that there had been a lot of good years but also there had been challenges, difficulties, and suffering in her marriage and family life. Yet, she continued, nothing of that mattered because she loved her husband and her family very much. I then asked her how was she able to go through all those many years and remain happy about it. Without missing a beat she said, “Forgiving, Father, forgiving.”
That was it. Forgiveness – nothing more. Forgiveness, just like Christ offers, and our faith asks us to do seventy times seven.
This woman was able to forgive and remain joyful through 60 years of marriage and family life because of her faith and life of prayer. She is also a kind and generous person who enjoyed being of service to others. She is a woman of peace, who knows that God is always with her, despite sufferings and challenges. She trusts in God.
After I left her to go to the sacristy to prepare for the celebration of Mass, I felt like it was Christ who spoke to me through her. She opened my eyes of faith again in the same way that the disciples walking to Emmaus experienced that day long ago, after Christ’s Resurrection at Easter.