On Wednesday Pope Francis said that no matter what trials we might face, we have hope because Jesus is always by our side, just like he was for the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
“All of us, in our lives, have had difficult, dark times; moments in which we have walked sad, thoughtful, without horizons and (with) only a wall in front,” Pope Francis said May 24.
However, even in these moments “Jesus is always beside us to give us hope, warm the heart and say, ‘Go ahead, I’m with you. Go ahead,’” the Pope said, adding that “the secret of the road leading to Emmaus is all here: even through unfavorable appearances, we continue to be loved.”
The Pope met with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience, immediately following his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Francis said that no matter what, God always wants the best for us and “will walk with us.”
“Even in the most painful moments, even in the worst moments, even in moments of defeat: the Lord is there. And this is our hope. Let’s go ahead with that hope! Because he is next to us and walks with us always!”
The Pope reflected on hope as it is found in the story of Christ’s appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, when they feel sad, discouraged and defeated because Jesus has been killed, but they do not yet know about his Resurrection.
All of their hopes from before the crucifixion have been shattered, but this is because they “cultivated only human hope,” Francis said.
It is on this scene that Jesus appears. “This scenario – the road – had already been important in the accounts of the Gospels,” he explained, but “now it will become even more, as they begin to recount the story of the Church.”
This encounter of Jesus with the disciples seems “fortuitous,” he said, in the way it resembles the many times we are carrying our own crosses or burdens of sorrow and disappointment. But Jesus joins them, even though they do not recognize him, and he begins what Pope Francis called a “therapy of hope.”
The first step in this therapy, he said, is to “ask and listen: our God is not an intrusive God. Even though he already knows the reason for the disappointment of those two, he leaves them time to be able to gauge the depth of the bitterness that he has undergone.”
Then, listening to their words, we hear “a chorus of human existence: ‘We hoped, but…We hoped, but….’”
“How much sadness, how many defeats, how many failures there are in each person’s life!” the Pope said, noting that “we are all a bit like those two disciples.”
“How many times in life we hoped, how many times we felt a step away from happiness, and then we found ourselves disappointed,” he reflected.
“But Jesus walks with all discouraged people who go forward with head down. And walking with them, in a subtle way, he succeeds in returning hope.”
When he does speak to them, Jesus does it first through the Scriptures. In the Bible, you will not find stories of “easy heroism, thunderous campaigns of conquest,” the Pope said. “True hope is never cheap: it always goes through defeats.”
In fact, Francis said, Jesus models this for us by not being the kind of leader that drags his people to victory by violently destroying his opponents. Instead, he takes a position of disdain himself.
Later that same night, when the disciples have invited him to eat dinner with them, they recognize him when he breaks the bread, repeating the gesture of the first Eucharist.
“In this series of gestures, is there not the whole story of Jesus? And is there not, in every Eucharist, the sign of what the Church must be? Jesus takes us, blesses us, ‘breaks’ our lives – because there is no love without sacrifice – and offers it to others, offers it to everyone.”
Jesus’ encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is quick, he said, but in it we find “the fate of the Church.”
“He tells us that the Christian community is not locked up in a fortified citadel, but walks in its most vital environment; namely, the road. And there it meets people, with their hopes and their disappointments, sometimes heavy.”
“The Church listens to the stories of everyone, as they emerge from the depths of personal conscience, in order then to offer the Word of Life, the testimony of love, faithful love to the end,” he concluded. “And then, the hearts of people return to burning hope.”