Encounter simply means a meeting with someone or something. Sometimes an encounter comes unexpectedly, so it could come unexpectedly as it happens today on the road to Emmaus.
Encounter could then mean an unexpected meeting with someone or something. It could mean coming in contact with somebody you were longing for.
The gospel of today is all about a special encounter with the risen Lord. Before the encounter today, their eyes were closed. The Emmaus disciples were depressed and confused.
Then, after this encounter, their God opens their eyes. They ran with joy to spread the news. Something significant happened in their lives.
This is the result of one who has an encounter. The only and surest way to save us from spiritual blindness, is to have a special encounter with the risen Lord, it is the surest way to our own resurrection.
Before The Encounter.
The gospel tells us about the two disciples going to Emmaus. We know that these disciples of Jesus were not among the apostles. This is because of the mention of Cleopas. Also the indication that after the experience, they ran to the eleven to report are enough evidence and confirmation.
Then, Luke does not tell us what they are going to Emmaus to do. It may be their home or one of the homes of the either disciple.
The disciples could also be husband and wife, because they later invited Jesus to have a dinner with them. While on their way, one could imagine how depressed, confused, and worried they are. They are seriously talking about the event that happened. They seem to be in a hopeless situation.
Remember when Jesus came into their midst, Jesus asked them what they were talking about, they became sad. They became sad not because of the question. They seem to be sad that what they expected did not come to fulfillment. So, it was a hopeless situation.
Cleopas answered Jesus when He was questioning them, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days, about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed himself a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and the whole people. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. An indication that they took Jesus as a political saviour, so it was hope turned hopeless.
Secondly, they were utterly confused, because they have not really known the truth. Cleopas here tells Jesus that some women from the group astounded them when they went to the tomb in the early morning. When they could not find the body, they came back to tell them that they had seen a vision of angels who declared that Jesus was alive.
And some others went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of Jesus they saw nothing.
Imagine the confusion. The body was no where to be found, who took the body? The women said they saw angels, now these people went and saw nothing.
The angels said he is alive, yet No one has seen him. They were totally confused. This is how many Christians today are utterly confused about the truth of their faith, about the reality of what is to be believed or not.
So, many of us are in hopeless situations and it looks as if the promises of God are not forth coming, it looks as if all hope is lost.
We need an encounter with Jesus to strengthen our faith again. Just like the Emmaus disciples, we may be in hopeless situations right now, not knowing that Jesus is already walking beside us.
How to Encounter Jesus Personally.
1. Through the Word
One truth about the Emmaus disciples is that they know truly what happened but they did not actually know what happened. Put your thinking cap here.
They know what happened because they were discussing the event, even Cleopas affirmed that Jesus is a prophet, known with mighty deeds.
So, they know but they did not know because they were thinking their expectations of Jesus and their hope in Jesus have been dashed to the ground, until Jesus came into their midst to explain what really happened, So we may think we know, but we do not actually know.
We need Jesus to teach us in the Word. We may think, we have acquired more knowledge, but if we cannot be humble like Nicodemus to meet Jesus personally (John 3), if we cannot be open like the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) who allowed himself to be taught, we would hardly know the truth.
The word of God is deeper than we think and should not be understood literally, that is why we have to pay attention to the mother church, that is why we need divine revelation to fully come to the truth.
To know Jesus we have to encounter Him in his word, and allow him to teach us. As the Emmaus disciples encountered Jesus, He began to teach them about himself through the scriptures.
The scripture is a strong powerful tool to encounter God. In the midst of confusion, hopelessness, faithlessness,we need the Word and Jesus is the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14).
The word of God is a source of divine revelation. Peter, the disciples, and many others believed because Jesus revealed himself personally to them, and one of the ways we can have such special encounter is through the Word of God.
2. Encounter in the Poor.
There is something significant about these disciples today. They met a stranger they did not know and have not actually met before, the expected thing they would have done after the discussion is to let him go. But instead of doing this, they invited him to have a dinner with them, not knowing that they invited the person they have been talking about.
Sometimes many of us appear more spiritual, talk about God all day long but treat those around them with hatred and wickedness.
Some people treat the poor and the strangers in a disgusting manner, not knowing that they can find God they are looking for in the other person.
By showing hospitality to a stranger, Jesus rewards the Emmaus disciples with a special encounter, a special experience, and a dinner with the Lord.
This reminds us of Genesis 18: 1-15. Abraham shows hospitality to strangers not knowing that he is entertaining angels.
Sometimes we do not the way our God may be visiting us. Sometimes we do not know the way God is packaging our blessings.
Even, we do not know the blessings we may receive by showing hospitality and the ones we lose by foregoing it.
The rich man deprives himself blessings in Luke 16:19-31 by overlooking Lazarus but in Genesis 18, God blesses Abraham and rewards him with a gift of a child through his hospitality.
We can encounter Jesus in the poor, in the other person and the way we treat people. Mother Theresa says “we cannot say that we love Jesus only in the Eucharist naturally. We put that love in action by how we treat the poor. We cannot separate the Eucharist and the poor”.
3. In the Eucharist
While walking with Jesus all these while, their eyes were closed until at the breaking of bread, their eyes were closed, as He was busy teaching them first, until at the breaking of bread.
A pointer that spiritual journey is a gradual process, you need to walk with Jesus, hear him, listen to His words and meet him always at the breaking of bread. we have to know who you are worshiping, understand who you are worshiping and listen to Him to Know him more.
They recognized Jesus through his four action processes each time He breaks the bread. He used these four action processes at the Lord’s suppers (Luke 22:19) and even in the feeding of the crowd (Luke 9:12-17).
The Action processes are: He takes, He blesses, He breaks and He gives, at this point, their eyes open. This is what we do everyday at the mass.
At the Eucharist we meet Jesus one on one, We see Him facie a facie, when you meet Him, you meet light because He is the light of the world and shines in you, when you eat him you eat life.
He says “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53). Also hear what some saints said about the Holy Eucharist:
The Holy Eucharist is the perfect expression of the love of Jesus Christ for man, since It is the quintessence of all the mysteries of His Life. -St. Peter Julian Eymard
This is the Bread of everlasting life which supports the substance of our soul. -St. Ambrose
Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart. -St. Therese of Lisieux
The Blessed Eucharist is the perfect Sacrament of the Lord’s Passion, since It contains Christ Himself and his Passion. -St. Thomas Aquinas
We need to have the thirst for Jesus to know Jesus and encounter Him. Imagine the Joy of the Emmaus disciples after this special encounter.
Imagine, how they would run back to Jerusalem with Joy that the story they have been hearing is true.
Also, imagine the celebration, the liveliness of knowing and meeting Jesus personally.
This is the joy of one who has a special encounter. Your joy will be so great even in the midst of difficulties.
Because the source of the joy is not human but divine. God will fill you with divine wisdom and knowledge because you are full of inspiration.
Your life will be a witness because you will speak about God boldly not by what you just read from a book but by experience and encounter. Then, you will be hungry to let people know about Him.
This is the joy of a special encounter. Read the bible. Ask for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Visit the sick. Help the poor, and save the downtrodden. Do it not to receive worldly appraisal but God’s appraisal.
Treat the person around you like a human being. His or her blessings upon you may be what you need at that moment. Then, never forget Jesus the Blessed Sacrament.
Let him be your spiritual food. Be a communicant. Visit him if possible daily in the Blessed Sacrament. I bet you, your life will not remain the same.
The only way to save us from spiritual blindness, is through special encounter with the risen Lord. It is the surest way to our own resurrection. Encounter with the risen Lord is the secret of total transformation.
May God Bless you for reading, may He protect you all through this week Amen.