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A sermon on the road to Emmaus

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Fr. Mike Paraniuk

By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro,
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield),
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)

It was late at night. A trucker was riding down a wooded country road. He was looking for a place to park his rig after long hard day of delivering many loads. His desire for sleep would have to wait. He was not the only traveler on this lonely road. Up ahead he spotted a tiny little baby deer wandering aimlessly in the middle of the road. 

The poor deer was lost, desperately looking for its momma. Though exhausted the trucker waited patiently to see what would happen. The baby deer collapsed from exhaustion on the road. It could walk no further. He proceeded to get out of his truck to help the baby deer, but his assistance would not be needed. Momma deer ran through the woods, jumping onto the road to rescue her baby. The little deer just lay there too tired to move.

Momma did everything she could to encourage her baby to move. She licked. She nudged. She used her nose to lift baby up, who would then fall right back down. Sensing danger momma deer grabbed baby deer in her mouth and dragged it across the road. After a few moments of rest on the roadside, baby deer regained its strength. Both momma and baby scampered back into the safety of the woods.

Cleopas and his companion were like that baby deer as they walked to road to Emmaus. They were weakened from disappointment. The Messiah whom they hoped would save them from their oppressors was killed on the cross. But like the momma deer Jesus came to them as they journeyed down the road. 

Jesus walked by their side. He encouraged them that hope was not lost. Jesus showed them that His death was not the end but the beginning where God would satisfy their desire for freedom and renewed joy. In Jesus God's glory would be restored. What is the glory of God? It is God's desire that all His children deserve the very best. 

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Eph. 1:3.) 

Don't parents want the very best for their children? Does not God want the best for His children?

All of us are on a journey. Our life is like walking down a road. I believe that Jesus walks with me. I have felt His presence encouraging me. 

What is the "best" that God wants for me? How does Jesus encourage me along the way? The best is God's offer of a full life, an eternal life, filled with happiness we can't even imagine. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9.) 

Every day I live down here, I ask God, "How shall I love you today?" 

God then shows me what good He wants me to do for that day. Usually, it involves helping someone in need. 
Life's road is difficult at times. It's not all bad, yet our road has potholes of worry, doubt, uncertainty and disappointment. Sometimes I fall into those potholes. The best way to get out of them is faith. I feel Jesus encouraging me to keep going when I completely have faith He has the power over all my problems. 

My faith fills up the potholes. Jesus can even use the potholes to show me what He wants me to see. They show me that Jesus is in charge. If I listen to Him and believe what He is telling me, then I can be open to the spiritual gifts He has for me - peace, inner joy and the certainty that everything eventually will work out OK. God says in Proverbs 20:24 "Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord." 

It is foolish to think I am in charge of me own life. I make God laugh every time I tell him my plans. 

I have a lingering question about Cleopas dining with Jesus. Luke says that Jesus broke the bread and then, "vanished from their sight." Where did He go?  

I think Jesus went right inside their hearts. 

"Then they said to each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?'" Jesus put into their hearts Divine Love.

As I walk the road to Heaven, I ask God this simple request, "Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil. (Psalm 119:133.) 

Happy travels!

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