In preparation for the hearing and living the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, we at the Monastery have been reading Benedictine Abbot Primate Gregory Polan’s article, “‘As We Await the Blessed Hope’: Reflections on the Biblical Meaning of ‘Hope’,” American Benedictine Review 71.1 (March 2020), 32-53, an address he gave to the gathering of Benedictine Prioresses at Abbots, held at Cullman, AL, in spring 2018. The second half of the address is a commentary on Luke’s story of the walk to Emmaus. The point of his reflection is that we Christians are all on this journey to Emmaus, wondering who is this Risen Lord, who accompanies in our living the faith of discovering how God is bringing hope into our lives.
In the following I invite you to accompany the poet Maude Carolan, in her journey to discover the Lord, who walks with her and discover your own experience of the Emmaus Walk with the Risen Lord.
THE EMMAUS TRIPTYCH
I. THE UNNAMED FRIEND
Cleopas and friend walked and talked / with lumbering gaits and downcast faces
shining hopes of sweet redemption dashed and obliterated
They asked of each other the Why question / for if anyone had come to fill those old prophecies
surely it had seemed to be Him / that Jesus they’d come to know through signs and wonders
that appeared to be miraculous
Their so-called Messiah had been crucified / was dead and gone. Yes, gone, gone, gone!
Even His cold dead body was missing from the tomb that had been sealed—
He approached them in the midst of their perplexity on the road to Emmaus
He walked with them, talked with them
they even felt His fire but didn’t know who He was
and strange as that may seem / how often have I been the unnamed friend of Cleopas?
I, too, profess to know Him, know Him well / yet fail to recognize Him along the road
II. THE STRANGER
Taking the barley loaf in his hands the stranger lifted it
Baruch ata Adonai
Eloheynu Melech ha Olam
ha motzie lechem
He tore it, offered it, and just as it fell into reaching grasps
their astonished eyes recognized Him
and in that instant He utterly vanished from their sight!
Leaping from the table, Cleopas and his friend stumbled over each other
looking under, over, around and around
knowing even as they did it was True after all
As they looked at each other their disbelief became relief
the sweet awakening of a deep Belief
for Truth visited them along the way joined them at their table, broke their humble bread
They asked each other
Were not our hearts burning as He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
Now, blazing temples of Holy Fire they suddenly knew their once shattered hearts would never cool again
III. MY EMMAUS
When I first found You, or You found me I thought I’d go from strength to strength /
pinnacle to pinnacle, joy to joy / and so it was for a season when love was new
then the whirlwind came thrashing through my world / upending all my securities
leaving me stunned, broken, alone / certain I would die
so I waited for You to save me / waited for prayers pleaded at Your scarred feet
to avail their just reward / for I believed in You, trusted, hoped
Eyes veiled, I couldn’t find You / failed to recognize You along the road
Had I believed in vain?
Then You began to speak / not audibly, but whenever I opened Your Word
Radiance, Glory, Unfailing Love / sprang from the page and became manifest
My heart blazed! I began to shine!
Now, on the other side of sorrow / I dare not forget my burning heart,
Your Glorious Presence / so I abide, remembering / it is You, my Jesus
Who walks with me along the road
~ Maude Carolan
Blessings for the Third Sunday of Easter!