“Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”
-Luke 24:32

The scene of Cleopas and his companion hurrying to Emmaus following the crucifixion and death of Jesus is one of the most evocative in all of Holy Scripture. In a vain attempt to forget everything they had witnessed in the last few days, the pair had attempted to put as much physical distance as possible between themselves and the horrific events in Jerusalem.

Doubtless, many emotions were coursing through their hearts as they walked that lonely road: confusion, fear, sorrow, but above all, hopelessness and despair. All their aspirations and desires for the future had been dashed with the death of Jesus. There was nothing left to hope for.

The hopelessness and despair experienced by Cleopas and his companion are not strangers to us who live two thousand years later. People of every generation have been afflicted by these same emotions. Today’s information and consumer driven lifestyle exacerbate them even more. In fact, psychologists have called the “malaise of hopelessness” the most pervasive illness of modern humanity.

We stumble into the abyss of hopelessness for many reasons: when we fail at endeavors we undertake, when we feel excluded or isolated from others, when we are constrained by illness or the circumstances of life, when we feel helpless to control our own destiny, and especially, when we fall continually into sin.

For Ukrainians, the feelings of hopelessness have been intensified by the ravages of the Russian invasion of our homeland. After living through two years of death and destruction, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. When will it all end? How much more suffering are we called to endure?

Cleopas and his companion provide an answer to all of us who suffer from hopelessness and despair, no matter what form they take. And that answer is Christ Resurrected!

The Resurrected Christ meets them on the road in the midst of the darkness of their despair and, as they walk, he speaks to them and begins to shed light into the darkness. Later, in Emmaus, at the breaking of the bread, their transformation is complete. Their lives are radically changed. Jesus offers them His Body, and with it, the light of hope and a bright and certain path to the future.

All their doubts, their pain, their sorrow, their fear, melt like morning dew in the sun. So much so, that after He disappears from their sight they exclaim to one another: “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” And with renewed courage and determination to face the future they return to Jerusalem to give witness to the Risen Christ.

Dearly beloved in Christ! Today, the Resurrected Christ meets each one of us as well, just as He met Cleopas and his companion, and He walks with us on the road of our lives just as He walked with them. He meets us wherever we are, under whatever circumstances we find ourselves. He meets us in the proclamation of the Word of His Holy Gospel. And He comes to us in His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, which He offers to us during the celebration of every Divine Liturgy. Jesus transforms our lives just as He transformed the lives of Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus.

With His glorious Resurrection from the darkness of the grave and eternal death, Jesus gifts us with renewed hope in eternal life, and light for the road that lies ahead of us. He gives us the confidence and courage to overcome any challenges we are called to face in our lives. And He promises to walk with us, just as he walked with Cleopas and his companion, and to never abandon us, wherever our road may lead.

May the hope and light of our Resurrected Lord be upon all of you and upon our long-suffering homeland of Ukraine during this Paschal season and always!

Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!
+Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM (author)
Eparch of Stamford
+Вenedict Aleksiychuk
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
Easter 2024