By: Rev. Yeri Nieto
Two of Jesus’ disciples, instead of staying in Jerusalem, had decided to drift away from the community. It was the most logical thing for them, because when sadness encompasses your whole soul, you don’t have many options. Typically, you flee the place that causes you pain. And their pain was very great: they had been with the Master for some time, having traveled through villages. They had seen him heal the sick and even raise the dead to life. They had witnessed the powerful proclamation of Jesus, who spoke with authority. These two disciples had experienced love through the compassionate actions of the Master of Galilee and had felt the hands of the Lord when He prayed to the Father and lovingly interceded for their lives. But what did they have now? Only sadness: the great prophet had died.
All their hopes had been pinned on Him, but now He was gone. And they saw how on Friday they tortured, beat, and massacred him. They nailed him to a cross, and all the time the Master remained silent. It was not only fear that made them move away from the cruel Golgotha: it was sorrow. Who is able to endure the suffering of the person he loves? Perhaps one of them prayed to the Father, and said, “Take it now, God, take it now!”, so that all the pain would end once and for all.
But we know that true sadness rarely ends quickly.
So, that evening, before the night’s dark mantle had covered the thick blackness of their soul, these two set out for Emmaus. They were talking because they no longer wanted to cry in their own silence. They were sighing as they attempted to assimilate the last week’s events. All their hopes now lay in the same tomb where Jesus was buried. They had no desire to “cheer up.” Grief is like this: who knows why, but we prefer to sink into it rather than allow it to usher us into an uncertain future. In melancholy there is never tomorrow. It was already getting dark. And all this reminded them that the dark night of the soul goes deep. So deep, that they did not even realize that Jesus walked beside them.
“For some reason,” Luke says, “they did not recognize him.” They knew him, but they did not recognize him. The reason? Their unfathomable pain, the weight of despair that creeps and dwells in the underground of our lives. But Jesus was there.
And he began to open the Scriptures to them. When he did, their hearts began to burn. For the first time since that tragic Friday, they noticed that they were still alive, and that the Word ignited them. They knew that hope had not completely vanished, and that sadness also has an expiration date. So, when the Master pretended to go farther, they urged him, “Stay with us.” And Jesus stayed and broke bread. Their eyes were opened, and they returned to their community with hope burning in their eyes and hearts.
Only the written Word of God will make our times of sadness bearable. Only Holy Scripture will provide us with peace and hope in the midst of any tragedy. Let that Word begin to set your heart on fire.