Thomas a Kempis’s sixth chapter of the second book of The Imitation of Christ is given the title, “Of the Joy of a Good Conscience.” True joy and contentment to do not come from temporal affairs or material things, but from knowing that we are right with God, who is Truth itself (see Jn 14:6 and Jn 18:37).
Today’s Gospel brings us to the beloved Emmaus Road interaction between the risen, but unrecognized, Jesus and two of His disciples (Lk 24:13:35). He joins them as they are walking home from Jerusalem, finding them despondent due to the Good Friday event, then cheers them with an explanation of the Scriptures pertaining to the messiah (thus their exclamation highlighted in the headline). They only recognize Jesus later in the breaking of the bread, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Kempis tells us that joy comes from the truth. Cleopas and companion had hearts afire when hearing the Word of God proclaimed and explained perfectly; their deep sorrow turned to unspeakable joy in their encounter with Jesus in the Word and exploded, such that they did double time in the miles back to Jerusalem, when He revealed Himself in the Eucharist.
This is a pattern for us. Our only true and lasting joy must come from the Lord. Hearing the Word, knowing the Word, meditating on the Word, and, most importantly, living the Word brings the interior peace and joy that only comes from embracing wholeheartedly the Truth. The disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced an extended form of the Mass from the only High Priest. We get the short form every day from the priest operating in the person of Christ. May our hearts also burn within us at the proclamation of the Word and the confection of the Eucharist!
The Road to Emmaus (contemporary) by Jorge Cocco