With the Risen Jesus-Christ, Hope is reborn!
With the Risen Jesus-Christ, hope is reborn when we accept that he walks with us, on the road of life. This is what we learn from the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus (Gospel according to Luke, chapter 24, verses 13 to 35).
The encounter of the Risen Christ with the two disciples, pilgrims of Emmaus, is “a therapy of Hope,” Pope Francis said during the General Audience on May 24, 2017.
For having accepted that a stranger should travel with them, for having accepted to open up to him and to share with him their experience, their hope and especially their disappointment, Cleopas and the other disciple – perhaps Cleopas’ wife, eyewitness to the crucifixion of Jesus in the Gospel according to Saint John 19:25 – will gradually walk from darkness to light, from disappointment to hope. In other words, the light of the resurrection and of hope is always revealed in welcoming the other and the Whole Other, in sharing and opening up to the other and to the Whole Other.
Initially, Cleopas and the other disciple walked with grim faces and heavy hearts, crushed and dejected by the events of the brutal assassination of one who they believed was Israel’s hope. A hope shattered by the men of power in their country (Jewish religious, Roman civil and military authorities). “And we who hoped that he would be the deliverer of Israel” (cf. Luke 24:21): thus, filled with disappointment, discouraged and disillusioned, these two disciples emptied their hearts that were full of disappointments and bitterness.
After listening to them with genuine empathy, the words of the strange new traveling companion had begun to warm the hearts of our two disillusioned pilgrims, and their faces became more and more illuminated. Hope is therefore found in openness to the other, in the acceptance and welcome of the other, in the encounter with the neighbor.
The path to hope also passes through acts of benevolence.
Indeed, the flame of hope, which had begun to revive the hearts and illuminate the faces of Cleopas and his companion, would not have become a living flame if they had not offered hospitality and offered to share their meal with the stranger.
In other words, hope, buried in the depths of our being, becomes evident to ourselves only through benevolence, solidarity and sharing with others. Unconditional acceptance of the other, benevolence towards them and sharing of our material and spiritual resources are opportunities for the flourishing of hope which transform us, transfigure us and give us new dynamism, an uplift as we exchange mutual support with others.
Suggesting to each other to walk a bit of the road together, however hard it may be, necessarily leads to enlightenment and embellishment of everyone’s life.
With the two pilgrims, disciples of Emmaus, we can and often do, throughout our life journey, experience the uniquely human hope. But when we are joined by the Risen One and we agree to walk part of the way with Him, we can, like these two pilgrims, move from this very human hope to divine hope which opens up to an inexpressible flourishing.
With the Risen One of Easter, rebirth to life and to hope is possible, confirms to us the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus. It is He, the Risen Christ, who transforms our human hope, often tinged with disappointment, into a divinely fulfilling hope.
Father Jean-Baptiste Vérité, member of the pastoral team of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount-Royal
© Painting of Joseph von Führich (1837)