“Emmaus was the first site we prayed at on my first pilgrimage and it is the last site of my second pilgrimage. In between was a journey; a changed life and hopefully, and in faith now, a life changed.”
The gospel passage of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had always meant a lot for me. The stories in my life, the events happened, the initially unseen guidance, the unidentified inner voice, and the road my faith have walked on, is kind of parallel to this passage; I can identify with this walk on the road to Emmaus.
This is my second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and to this site. A lot had happened in my life since. During my first pilgrimage in May 2013, I had just lost my job; hope for the future was mixed with bitterness about the past. My road in life led me to a job in Bangkok. Displacement had not been easy; I always looked back and wished things never changed, and found myself clinging on to the past. In many sacraments of reconciliation, I heard that I need to “Let go, and God is with you” and that “God is giving you a new life out of your troubles, embrace it”. I had come on this second pilgrimage hoping that this will book-end this transforming period of my life; that I will be free to walk on without the heavy baggage of past needs.
The night before, the last night for our pilgrimage, we were told that the Emmaus site will not be opened as the priest has to tend to an event in Jerusalem. I was disappointed. On the way there, Fr. Angelo said “it would be a miracle if it is open”. An inner voice said that a miracle it will then be; I walked through the open gate with joy and gratitude.
I ventured on to the path with two other pilgrims just trying to re-enact the walk of the two disciples, not expecting anything ahead; it was just a common, nondescript path. The path rounded a bend where a sign pointed to a Chapel of Adoration up the small hill. We decide to walk on. I was never here on my first pilgrimage. At the top of the hill was a small chapel. Inside, we can spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. We decided to enter to give thanks for a wonderful and blessed pilgrimage.
Soon after I knelt on the carpet in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I was suddenly overwhelmed. It came without expectation. I cried what must have been a bucketful of tears, I could not control myself; such was the power of whatever that was happening within me.
I was touched, I was healed, I was affirmed, I was assured, and I was comforted. I did not need to find the energy and resolve to surrender all that had been troubling me, in between the tears, they were just taken away from me. Lifted, and I, liberated. In between tears, I felt my grip loosened of things I had been clinging on to. Tears after tears washed away all that hurt, all that uncertainty, and all the fear. When the crying stopped, I felt washed, cleansed, renewed and thankful for my new life. I have finally embraced it; what God want to give me. I can now walk on beyond my Emmaus.
So this is true, the story of Emmaus. We will encounter him at the “breaking of bread”. I encountered my Risen Lord at the Blessed Sacrament high on a hill at the end of a path I was unexpectedly led on. This is my greatest experience of God; my biggest God-moment in my privileged life. This has been a pilgrimage book-ending a chapter of my life. Hopefully it will launch a sequel, with many chapters, for my life to be lived in testimony of the Risen Christ; he who walks step by step with us, never missing one.
His steps led me down that path and up that hill. I have encountered. I want to walk on. I will follow in his steps.