Emmaus — John Paul II often prayed “Stay with Us Lord”


Pope John Paul II frequently went to the story of the disciples at Emmaus for meditation. In 2004 he wrote an apostolic letter on the Eucharist, entitled Abide with us Lord. Here are some passages from it:

“He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27)

11. The account of the Risen Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus helps us to focus on a primary aspect of the Eucharistic mystery, one which should always be present in the devotion of the People of God: The Eucharist is a mystery of light! What does this mean, and what are its implications for Christian life and spirituality?

Jesus described himself as the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12), and this quality clearly appears at those moments in his life, like the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, in which his divine glory shines forth brightly. Yet in the Eucharist the glory of Christ remains veiled. The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei. Through the mystery of his complete hiddenness, Christ becomes a mystery of light, thanks to which believers are led into the depths of the divine life. By a happy intuition, Rublëv’s celebrated icon of the Trinity clearly places the Eucharist at the centre of the life of the Trinity.

12. The Eucharist is light above all because at every Mass the liturgy of the Word of God precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist in the unity of the two “tables”, the table of the Word and the table of the Bread. This continuity is expressed in the Eucharistic discourse of Saint John’s Gospel, where Jesus begins his teaching by speaking of the mystery of his person and then goes on to draw out its Eucharistic dimension: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn 6:55). We know that this was troubling for most of his listeners, which led Peter to express the faith of the other Apostles and of the Church throughout history: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). In the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Christ himself intervenes to show, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets”, how “all the Scriptures” point to the mystery of his person (cf. Lk 24:27).

His words make the hearts of the disciples “burn” within them, drawing them out of the darkness of sorrow and despair, and awakening in them a desire to remain with him: “Stay with us, Lord” (cf. v. 29).

“They recognized him in the breaking of bread” (cf. Lk 24:35)

14. It is significant that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, duly prepared by our Lord’s words, recognized him at table through the simple gesture of the “breaking of bread”. When minds are enlightened and hearts are enkindled, signs begin to “speak”. The Eucharist unfolds in a dynamic context of signs containing a rich and luminous message. Through these signs the mystery in some way opens up before the eyes of the believer.

As I emphasized in my Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, it is important that no dimension of this sacrament should be neglected. We are constantly tempted to reduce the Eucharist to our own dimensions, while in reality it is we who must open ourselves up to the dimensions of the Mystery. “The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation” (§10).

Visit the Vatican website for the whole document:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20041008_mane-nobiscum-domine_en.html

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