“Jesus asked them: “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.” (Luke 24:17)
Yesterday was Confirmation Day here in our parish. I must confess that now that I’m a pastor, I often get nervous when the bishop starts asking the kids questions as if he’s going to blame me if they answer incorrectly. We were blessed to have Bishop Luis del Castillo, a retired bishop from Uruguay, presiding at the Confirmation, and he did something quite remarkable that initially freaked me out. Instead of calling on the kids and asking them questions, he called the first two kids in the first pew to stand up and stand on either side of him to “help him with his homily.” He went on to break down the readings of the day as he moved back and forth to both teenagers asking them simple questions of how those readings and their Confirmation applied to their daily lives at school and at home. As I was watching this very gentle soul reach out to our teenagers, I could not help but think about today’s gospel. What the bishop did yesterday is exactly what Jesus does today. He took two disciples and broke open for them the Scriptures.
After the confirmations, I asked the young lady who was up there with the bishop how it went. She quickly admitted how scared she was at first. Again, just like the disciples of Emmaus. Afraid after the crucifixion. Overjoyed after experiencing the power of the Word of the Risen Christ. To journey through life joyfully and without fear, we must walk with our Lord. He has so many things to share with us including his very self. All we have to do is follow the example of the Emmaus disciples and invite him to stay with us. We can’t push him away. We can’t fight him as I preached about in a daily homily this past week. He needs to be right there by our side.
Later on today, I’ll preach to a group of engaged couples getting ready to receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This gospel is perfect for them as well because for if they want to have a beautiful marriage then they must also walk with the Lord. As one of my wise former pastors used to say: “They can’t walk ahead of him. They can’t walk behind him. They must walk besides him!” And as they walk besides him they must also recognize Jesus in each other in the same way that the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
Which brings me back to the bishop’s homily and the very first question that he asked these kids: “Have you ever seen God?” They both answered that they hadn’t. And slowly and with great love the bishop began to explain how they can see God in their family, classmates, friends, and neighbors. If it applies to confirmed teenagers, it must certainly apply to married couples who must see God in each other every single day. And it most definitely applies to every Christian who seeks the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.
Don’t walk too fast.
Don’t walk too slow.
And walk with the Lord.