I remember the first time our son was deployed. Justin was a young Lieutenant helicopter pilot in the Marines. And although he had already logged many flight hours under grueling conditions, this was his first combat assignment. He and Michelle were married about a year. When it came time to say ‘good-bye’, the whole family stood quietly just looking at each other. After a minute of silence, Michelle started crying first, then I broke down in tears, and the whole family followed. It was a loving but painful moment saying, ‘good bye’ not knowing what the future would bring.
We feel pain being separated from loved ones. That is the price of love. But Jesus felt the ultimate pain of separation when He paid the price of his love for us on the cross. Jesus loves us so much that he came into our world as a vulnerable little baby. He accepted the abuse of the teachers and elders of the law. He was scorned, humiliated, and brutally beaten by Roman executioners before they nailed him to a cross and ran their warrior’s lance through his side. Because of his love for us, Jesus suffered and died to be the perfect Passover sacrifice, standing in our place before the Father so we can live.
In the Gospel today, some disciples meet Jesus while walking home to the village of Emmaus after the Passover. Scripture tells us they were “conversing and debating” and “downcast” about what happened to Jesus just a few days before in Jerusalem. It must have been painful for them – losing their good friend under such horrible circumstances and wondering what the future would bring.
Then, Jesus approaches and engages them in a conversation. They don’t recognize him, but still invite him to dinner. After Jesus leaves they realized who he was and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” This time, saying “good-bye” was not painful – it was joyful. And although those disciples may not have understood the big picture yet of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection they were excited and on fire with his love. And what did they do? They ran off and told the others!
As we continue celebrating this Easter Season, can we share in those feelings of being on fire with our faith and his love? Jesus died to give us life. But, we live today not because Jesus died, but because of His love for us. Now, like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, our job is to share His love with others – to go out and announce the Gospel of the Lord!