The Road to Emmaus comes on the scene at a great time in the Church Year! Why? Well, because it helps us to understand where we are and it helps us to understand where we are.
3rd Sunday of Easter Readings (Cycle A)
First, where we are... So, spiritually speaking, we're in the post Lenten resolution phase where maybe we're finding it hard to be the person we committed ourselves to being during Lent? Maybe we're not keeping up with the person God is calling us to be? Maybe we're finding ourselves going through some spiritual regression after the Easter Sunday high starts to fade... that whole 'regressing back to bad habits' or 'things we said we won't do anymore' phase... very much like making a New Year's resolution only to break it a couple weeks later. So yeah, we can find ourselves like Cleopas the other disciple who are questioning and feeling downcast and trying to figure out what is going on?... like, what the heck?... has new life set it?... where am I? THE GOOD NEWS is, hope is NOT lost, that Jesus meets us where we are, just like He met Cleopas and the other disciple on the road, He meets us where we are, right here, right now, no matter what!!!! The key is to invite Christ in, truly see Him in the scriptures, truly see Him in the breaking of the bread; and either gain strength in following Christ or recommit ourselves to the person God is calling each and everyone one of us to be! NOW IS THE TIME!
Second, where we are... So, at Mass, why am I in the pew? Why do I come week after week? To give praise to God? YES! But wait! There's more!... In the Road to Emmaus what are we given but a blueprint of the Mass! No joke, legit, for real, seriouly! When we come to Mass and we begin with the Sign of the Cross and the priest says, the Lord be with you ...He's really saying, the Lord be with you in a real sense of knowing not only are you welcome but know that the LORD IS WITH YOU, walking with you, journeying with you and with you no matter what is going on in your life!!!! Just like the disciples on their way to Emmaus we break open scripture and enter into the Eucharist, the breaking of the bread so that we may ENCOUNTER CHRIST - in The Word, Sacrament, & Community! So at Mass, we are invited to enter into the public prayer of the Church we are invited to bring our whole selves into it! We are encouraged to bring our questions, our intentions, our concerns, our joys, our sorrows, our whatevers and to place them on The Altar so that we like the bread, be taken, blessed, broken open, and given for others! How cool, how awesome is that?! That's crazy awesome that Christ invites us to encounter Him in such an intimate way.
Is choosing not to go to Mass as sin? YES! Why? The Church says going to Sunday Mass (or Saturday Vigil) is our obligation or duty or responsibility. Why? The answer is not, "because the Church says so," but rather, the Church says so because... it is in the Sacred Scripture, in the Eucharist, and in the community we gather with, which is modeled by Christ, that Christ Himself is inviting us to encounter Him. So, what's the basic definition of a sin? Choosing our will or some thing over God or God's will. So when we choose not to go to Mass, admit it or not - but it's true - we're really saying, "I don't want to encounter you Jesus," "I don't want to spend time with you," "I don't want to engage my path to enternal life in Heaven." So, therefore, choosing not to go to Mass is a sin because we are choosing something other than God, we're saying no to the encounter.
The Road to Emmaus... it really can help us to know where we are and where we are... may we encounter Christ anew through this scripture passage and the Mass inviting Christ to be with us so that our hearts too may burn with His love and give us the strength, courage, and wisdom to tell the Good News! Amen!