Everything needed to encounter Jesus Christ can be found in today’s Gospel.
Three things are needed; the desire for God, the Word of God and the bread of the Eucharist. Pursue the three things relentlessly and I guarantee you, if you’re not a Catholic already, you’ll become a Catholic – you’re inner world will start to resemble the Catechism!
Suddenly Jesus comes up and walks with two of his disciples.
Significantly, they’re discussing him, his life and the events surrounding his death and reported resurrection. They’re downcast and haven’t yet come to faith describing Jesus as “a great prophet” rather than Lord.
They’re interested in Jesus. He’s important to them. They’re looking to him and thus he comes to meet them. It’s a two way thing. This is the first requirement – interest, desire, or as Jesus put it, knocking, searching and looking because the privileges of the true Christian will never be disclosed to humankind at large.
Let’s imagine ourselves going for a walk down the promenade (a path on the banks of the River Slaney in Enniscorthy), or shopping, or our life from this moment to the next occasion we’ll gather here; how often is Jesus Christ likely to be the focus of our attention? This is the reason we don’t feel connected to God. Our hearts and minds are somewhere else. Do you know why this happens?
We accept much too uncritically the secular narrative that we need a particular lifestyle if we are to be happy – watch the soaps any evening and you’ll find that there’s a narrative running through them about what brings us happiness. It’s everywhere, it’s rarely challenged and it’s big business! We’re slow to understand that Jesus Christ bestows life on those who love him; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and flowing over. Grace by its nature is excessive and overflows – it’s missionary!
Now look where he takes them when he begins to walk beside them. He leads them to reflect on the Word of God, the scriptures. This is the second requirement. Read the Gospels reflectively, repeatedly. There our minds will meet the mind of God, our hearts will meet the heart of God and our hearts too will begin to burn within us.
“… he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them.” They have the desire, they want him! If they’d let him go on, revelation wouldn’t have happened, they wouldn’t have been at the table with him when he took bread and they wouldn’t have recognized him. Imagine how close they’d have been but they still wouldn’t have made it. I’d say we’ve often been that close too!
This is the third and final requirement; the breaking of the bread. Their faith development reaches its climax in recognizing Jesus in the breaking of bread and suddenly he’s gone. Odd that, why disappear just then? Because he’s left them all that they need to find him. He’s left them directions – the Word and the breaking of bread, Holy Mass.
In every Mass two of the three requirements are always present; the Word and the breaking of the bread. But is the third always present; a real desire for Jesus Christ?