Do you feel a hunger for true happiness, but often wonder if it can ever be fulfilled by faith or anything else? Do you encounter skepticism toward religion and faith in our culture that can make you feel like hoping for Heaven is like putting your faith in fairy tales? If so, you can learn a lot from today’s Gospel about how Jesus wants to find us, give us true happiness, and build in us a faith that will withstand everyone who laughs at religion.
The Gospel opens with two disciples who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus earlier in the Gospel of Luke discussing Jesus’ resurrection. It seems they are not entirely convinced Jesus actually rose from the dead. One of them is named Cleopas, but we never find out the name of the other. Imagine yourself as that unnamed disciple. You have seen glimpses of Jesus, but He feels very far away, and it is too hard to believe in His resurrection when the whole world says that it cannot possibly be more than a myth to be either politely dismissed or outright laughed at. Yet you have burning questions in your heart: What if the resurrection were true? What if Heaven and its unimaginable happiness could be real?
What happens next is extraordinary. Jesus comes to the disciples and says, “Peace be with you.” Jesus wants you to know the unimaginable depth of unwarranted love in His heart for you. His entry into our hearts is through bestowing the gift of peace on us. He does not come to confuse or judge us, but to love us to the depth of our souls. You can probably think of many things in life that give you momentary happiness, but stop for a moment and think about what gives you real peace. When you pursue things that bring you deep peace you are on the path to God.
Next in the Gospel Jesus proves to the disciples that He is real by eating a piece of fish in front of them. He became a real man made of flesh to be in solidarity with us. He wants to reach us through the ordinary events of our life and for us to know that He is real. Our relationship with Christ needs to grow. You cannot become best friends with someone through just meeting them once; rather, you have to invest spending time with them until you trust them deeply. If you are having doubts in your faith, it is best to make real efforts to put time into prayer every day. When you do, you will be able to see Him working concretely through the ordinary events of your life.
Jesus goes on to build on the relationship of trust He built with the disciples. Once He greeted them with peace and proved that He was real, the Gospel says that He talked with the disciples and “opened their mind to understand the scriptures.” The scriptures in Jesus’ day were written over the course of centuries, and it would take someone with advanced knowledge to understand and interpret them. Once the disciples’ hearts were open and they believed Jesus had risen from the dead, He was able to gift them with knowledge beyond anything they could have known themselves. In our lives, building a relationship with Jesus and opening our hearts to Him will do the same. We will be able to live the best life possible with true hope in Heaven.