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Emmaus, the pathway of Hope

Catechesis by Pope Francis on Christian Hope
General Audience, Wednesday 24 May 2017 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
Today, I would like to reflect on the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus, narrated in the Gospel of Luke (cf. 24:13-25). Let us imagine the scene: two men are walking; disappointed, sad, convinced that they are leaving behind them the bitterness of an event which ended badly. Before that Easter, they had been full of enthusiasm, convinced that those days would be decisive: their expectations met as well as the hopes of all the people. Jesus, to whom they had entrusted their lives, had seemed to arrive at the final battle. He would now manifest his power, after a long period of preparation and concealment. This is what they were expecting. And it was not to be.

The two pilgrims had been nurturing a uniquely human hope which was now falling to pieces. That Cross raised on Calvary was the most eloquent sign of a defeat which they had not foreseen. If that Jesus was truly in accordance with God’s heart, then they had to conclude that God was unarmed, defenceless in the hands of violent people, unable to offer any resistance to evil.

So on that Sunday morning, these two men flee from Jerusalem. They still envision the events of the Passion, the death of Jesus unfold, and their souls bear the painful torment of those events during Saturday’s forced repose. That Easter, which should have inspired a song of liberation, has instead transformed into the most painful day of their lives. They leave Jerusalem to go elsewhere, to a tranquil village. They look like people who are intent on removing a burning memory. They are thus on the road, walking in sadness. This scenario — the road — had already been important in the Gospel narratives. It will now become increasingly more important, at the moment in which the history of the Church begins to be told.

Jesus’ encounter with those two disciples appears to be completely fortuitous. It seems to be one of those chance meetings that happen in life. The two disciples are walking, deep in thought, and a stranger comes up alongside them. It is Jesus, but their eyes are not able to recognize him. And therefore, Jesus begins his “therapy of hope”. What takes place on this road is a therapy of hope. Who administers it? Jesus.

Firstly, He asks and listens. Our God is not an intrusive God. Even though he knows the reason for the disappointment of those two men, he gives them time to be able to deeply fathom the bitterness which has overcome them. Out of this comes a confession that is a refrain in human existence. “We had hoped, but.... We had hoped, but...” (v. 21). How much sadness, how many defeats, how many failures there are in the lives of every person! Deep down, we are all a little like those two disciples. How many times we have hoped in our lives. How many times we have felt like we were one step away from happiness only to find ourselves knocked to the ground, disappointed. But, Jesus walks with all people who, discouraged, walk with their heads hung low. And walking with them in a discrete manner, he is able to restore hope.

Jesus speaks to them, above all through the Scriptures. Those who take up God’s Book will not encounter easy heroism, fierce campaigns of conquest. True hope never comes cheaply. It always undergoes defeat. The hope of those who do not suffer is perhaps not even [hope]. God does not like to be loved as one would love a ruler who leads his people to victory, annihilating his enemies in a bloodbath. Our God is a faint light burning on a cold and windy day, and as fragile as his presence in this world may appear, he has chosen the place that we all disdain.

Jesus then repeats for the disciples the fundamental gesture of every Eucharist. He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it. Does not Jesus’ entire history perhaps lie in this series of gestures? And is there not in every Eucharist, also the symbol of what the Church should be? Jesus takes us, blesses us, “breaks” our life — because there is no love without sacrifice — and offers it to others; he offers it to everyone.

Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples of Emmaus is a fleeting one. But the entire destiny of the Church is contained within it. It tells us that the Christian community is not enclosed within a fortified citadel, but rather journeys along its most essential environment, which is the road. And there, it encounters people with their hopes and disappointments, burdensome at times. The Church listens to everyone’s stories as they emerge from the treasure chest of personal conscience, in order to then offer the Word of Life, the witness of love, a love that is faithful until the end. And thus, the hearts of people reignite with hope.

We have all had difficult moments in life, dark moments in which we walked in sadness, pensive, without horizons, with only a wall before us. And Jesus is always beside us to give us hope, to warm our hearts and to say: “Go ahead, I am with you. Go ahead”. The secret of the road that leads to Emmaus is simply this: despite appearances to the contrary, we continue to be loved and God will never stop loving us. God will walk with us always, always, even in the most painful moments, even in the worst moments, even in moments of defeat. That is where the Lord is. And this is our hope. Let us go forward with this hope! Because he is beside us and walks with us. Always!"


"Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier le groupe catholique du Palais de Justice de Paris et la Communauté de l’Arche d’Ambleteuse, ainsi que toutes les personnes venant de Belgique, de France et de l’Île Maurice. A la veille de la fête de l’Ascension du Seigneur, soyez sûrs que, même à travers les apparences contraires, nous sommes toujours aimés de Dieu et que son amour pour nous ne cessera jamais. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam, Zimbabwe, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. Today I wish to greet especially pilgrims from Hong Kong as they celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan. May the Lord bless you all!

Herzlich heiße ich alle Pilger deutscher Sprache willkommen. Besonders grüße ich die Gläubigen und die Musikkapelle aus Zams. Im Monat Mai empfehle ich euch alle sowie eure Anliegen und Sorgen der seligen Jungfrau Maria. Gott segne euch und eure Familien.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Que Jesús resucitado nos conceda descubrirlo presente y vivo en su Iglesia donde, saliendo a nuestro encuentro y caminando junto a cada uno, nos conduce con su amor infalible y su presencia vivificante por el camino de la esperanza. Que Dios los bendiga.

Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, invocando para todos as consolações e luzes do Espírito de Deus, a fim de que, vencidos pessimismos e desilusões da vida, possam cruzar, juntamente com os seres queridos, o limiar da esperança que temos em Cristo ressuscitado. Conto com as vossas orações. Obrigado!

أرحب بمودة بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من سوريا ومن الأراضي المقدسة ‏ومن الشرق الأوسط. يوجد اليوم العديد من الأشخاص الذين يعيشون خبرة تلميذي عماوس، فيحيون بقلب ‏منكسر بسبب الحروب والإحباطات: يحيون الحاجة لأن يجدوا يسوع ولأن يجدهم هو. في الحقيقة، وحده القائم ‏من بين الأموات يمكنه أن يضرم من جديد فيهم وفي البشرية المحبطة شعلة الرجاء الذي لا يخيب أبدا. ‏ليبارككم الرب ‏جميعا ‏ويحرسكم من ‏الشرير!‏‏‏

Witam serdecznie uczestniczących w tej audiencji Polaków. Każdy człowiek, każdy z nas, w trudnych momentach życia bywa zagubiony i bezradny. Potrzebujemy czyjegoś wsparcia, pomocy, rady – zwłaszcza w sferze ducha. Wspomnienie Najświętszej Maryi Panny, Wspomożycielki Wiernych, które dzisiaj obchodzimy, uświadamia nam wielkość daru, jakim dla każdego z nas jest wsparcie i opieka Matki Bożego Syna. Zawierzajmy Jej nasze życie. W zwątpieniach często wzywajmy Jej pomocy: Wspomożycielko Wiernych wstawiaj się za nami. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

Вітаю українських прочан, які брали участь у міжнародному військовому паломництві до Люрду й не перестаю випрошувати в Господа миру для дорогої української землі.

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I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims. Saluto i fedeli provenienti dalle zone terremotate della Valnerina; quelli di Massa di Somma, in occasione dell’anniversario di fondazione della Parrocchia Santa Maria Assunta e i sindaci del Pinerolese. Saluto i gruppi parrocchiali e le Associazioni, in particolare quella dei Cantanti lirici. On the eve of the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension, may this visit to the Eternal City reawaken your faith and bolster renewed commitment to charity and solidarity.

I address a special greeting to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. Today we celebrate the feast day of Mary Help of Christians. Dear young people, learn to love at the school of the Mother of Jesus. Dear sick people, in your suffering, ask for the heavenly intercession of the Blessed Virgin by praying the Rosary. And you newlyweds, like Our Lady, may you always know how to listen to God’s will for your family."