By a huge margin, the Bible story quoted most often during the first week of the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible has been the story of the disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus, said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who is briefing English-speaking journalists on the synod speeches.
Anytime the word “Emmaus” is mentioned in any language or anytime there is a reference to Luke 24:13-35, Father Rosica’s ears perk up. He did one of his post-graduate projects on the story. And, while in Jerusalem in 1990, he commissioned Benedictine Sister Marie-Paul of the Mount of Olives Monastery to paint an icon of the story’s two main scenes.
The reason the story keeps coming up at the synod is because so many bishops and other synod members see it as the perfect example of what the church must do with the Scriptures: discuss them with the faithful, explain them and let them lead people to recognize Jesus.
Father Pasual Chavez Villanueva, superior general of the Salesians, told the synod this morning that the story give precise instructions for how to evangelize the young, emphasizing that it is Jesus who evangelizes through his word and that evangelization takes place by walking alongside people, listening to their sorrows, and then giving them a word of hope and a community in which to live it.
Father Chavez told the synod that today’s young people definitely share with the disciples “the frustration of their dreams, the tiredness of their faith and being disenchanted with discipleship.”
“Young people,” he said, “need a church that walks alongside them where they are.”