April 23, 2023 Essay: The Long Walk
No Newspaper. No Photographs. No Radio. No TV. No Internet. No Social Media.
There were just two disciples walking and talking. They were walking from Jerusalem back home to Emmaus, maybe a seven-mile journey. They were engaged in a lively conversation about what happened to Jesus, the Nazarene. Their hopes and dreams of Jesus liberating Israel were shattered. They felt despair and hopelessness.
Then, a stranger appears alongside them and is listening intently to their discussion. He asks what things have happened in Jerusalem. They are astounded he has not heard. They speak of Jesus as the great prophet who was Israel’s hope of Redemption. They tell him that the women at the tomb saw angels and Jesus’ body was gone. Even as the stranger breaks open scripture stories that foretold the death of Jesus, the disciples still do not see.
No Newspapers. No Photographs. No Radio. No TV. No Internet. No Social Media.
Only a lone stranger’s voice unpacking the scriptures to help the disciples to see and regain their hopes and dreams. Their hearts were burning as he talked to them on the road, yet they did not See. They were so distraught about the terrible death of Jesus in Jerusalem that they could not hear his voice. The voice of the stranger…the voice of Jesus. Whose voice do you hear in Luke’s Gospel as the trio is walking along the road? Would you have recognized the Risen Christ in your midst?
As they near their home, and the sun is setting, the disciples invite the stranger to spend the night with them. He accepts. He takes the bread and blesses it as they sit at the table. It is at that moment their eyes are opened wide. He disappears, and then they know he is the Risen Lord. All along, something was burning, or stirring, in their hearts. After Jesus vanishes from their sight, they are compelled to get on the road and walk back to Jerusalem to share their news with the other disciples about their encounter with Jesus.
No Newspapers. No Photographs. No Radio. No TV. No Social Media.
They had to walk seven miles to Jerusalem so they could communicate to the other disciples in person that they indeed did see Jesus. In our chaotic world, where is the invitation of the Risen Lord to open your eyes and see? How do we, as God’s people, see? On this third Sunday of Easter, the presence of the Risen Lord prevails in our world, yet so does gun violence. We do not have to walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus to see the death and violence guns have unleashed in our country. More than 11,500 people have been killed since January 2023 in the United States. In only three months, families have been shattered by the violent deaths of their loved ones. Children, women, and men brutally murdered by guns, as Jesus was brutally murdered on the cross. Where are the burning hearts stirring in God’s people?
Yes Newspapers. Yes Photographs. Yes Radio. Yes TV. Yes Social Media.
In our world today, we are thoroughly and globally woven together by the Internet. News travels at an incredible speed disseminating the chaos—and the goodness—in a matter of seconds.
May this excerpt from the poem, Some, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J., open your eyes to our Risen Lord and give you the hope Jesus promised to God’s people by his Resurrection.
“Why do you walk?
Because of the children, they said, and
Because of the heart, and
Because of the bread.
is the heart’s beat
and the children born
and the risen bread.”
— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate