When the risen Jesus encounters his disciples on the road to Emmaus, it’s quite clear that their journeying away from Jerusalem is in fact a journeying away from hope. They have witnessed their friend, their hoped-for savior die; they have seen their community scattered; they have understood their trust in God to have been misplaced. What is left for them now?
Jesus, of course, turns them around—quite literally. The encounter with the risen Christ means a renewed encounter with hope; that God is not done yet; that darkness and suffering do not have the final word.
Indeed, this story continues to unfold in our own time. We look out at a world wracked by hunger, poverty, war, injustice and we, too, feel like walking away. Where should we place our hope when the challenges seem insurmountable?
This is the story of resurrection. We encounter Christ daily in the faces of our neighbors, of those we meet in our work, our home, on our streets, those whom we have yet to meet face to face but with whom we are intricately tied as members of God’s one human family. We encounter Christ, too, within ourselves. And in these encounters, we have reason to hope. Because God is not done yet—and so long as we have strength to continue the work of building a culture of encounter, of responding to our Gospel call, neither are we.
Eric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
This reflection was first published in CRS Rice Bowl’s Encounter Lent: Theological & Scriptural Reflections. Don’t forget to turn in your Lenten alms to CRS Rice Bowl!
How are you called to join with others to “turn around” and challenge injustice that you see or experience? How can you work with others to be a sign of Christ’s resurrection in your community?
Read about how, in the face of the violence and unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in 2014, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has served as a witness to God’s love and hope. Read these recommendations from the USCCB Special Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities for ways your faith community can work to build peace and end racial injustice.