Wednesday within the Octave of Easter
(Acts 3:1-10; Lucas 24:13-35)
Twenty-five years ago Christians everywhere marveled at the parable, “Footprints in the Sand.” The tale tells of a dream which a person has about her life. It says that the dreamer sees two sets of footprints along most of her life’s trajectory. She surmises that one set is hers and the other belongs to the Lord whom she has always held as a friend. At a point of crisis, however, she sees only one set of footprints and worries that the Lord abandoned her in need. When she asks him why, she learns that he had not abandoned her but had carried her through the trial. Today’s gospel provides the model for that famous parable.
Two travelers from Jerusalem are bereft with the death and rumored resurrection of Jesus. Along the road they meet a stranger who elucidates all that is troubling them. His explanation of the Scriptures makes their hearts burn with love of God. In a meal at the day’s end they recognize their interlocutor as none other than their risen Lord.
The gospel story helps us appreciate the presence of Christ in both word and sacrament at mass. We may also understand it as indicating that he accompanies us along the journey of life. As youth, we find him teaching us to play fairly and to work hard to succeed. In middle age, we meet Jesus forgiving our excesses and strengthening us to carry out his Father’s will. At life’s end we recognize him as the thread that has held our life together and the hope of an ever more abundant life to come.