May it bless you today!
Jesus begins to re-orient the disciples by explaining to them the truths of salvation history: “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” That might serve as an apposite summary of the work of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict: to rescue the scriptures from becoming lifeless history, reading them instead for what they teach us about Jesus. The disciples whose “hearts burned” as Jesus explained the scriptures to them are like those millions who have read Benedict’s books or listened to his preaching and discovered afresh the reality of Jesus Christ in their lives.
And he goes on to talk about Pope Francis.
If Benedict exemplified the master teacher who could interpret divine revelation, Pope Francis is a model of the concerned companion who accompanies the seekers in the first place. In perhaps his most important address about his pastoral vision, delivered to the bishops of Brazil on his visit for World Youth Day in Rio, Francis turned to Emmaus.
“It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice. Faced with this situation, what are we to do?” the Holy Father asked.
“We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night,” he answered. “We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning … Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the ‘night’ contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realises that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return.”