Pastor’s Corner for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

The road to Emmaus is a paradigm for all of those who both study the Scriptures and also for those who engage in the work of evangelisation.


Part of the missionary paradigm that Jesus engages in is simply meeting people where they are at. These followers are fleeing Jerusalem, putting distance between themselves and the dire events of that passover weekend, and the crazy story which the women disciples were telling. He doesn’t tell them that they are in the wrong place or that they are heading in the wrong direction. He joins them on their journey and he begins by asking them questions.


What would most likely have done in that situation? I suspect most of us would not have taken the trouble to find out who the people were that we are speaking to, what their experiences were or what their thoughts were on the topic. We would have shut them down by giving them the correct answer.  We would have not been listening in order to understand, but rather listening in order to prove we know better, or to share our own experience.


Jesus meets them where they are, and he journeys with them and he truly listens to them. And only then does he begin to teach.


He takes them back to the scriptures that they would have read all of their lives, and heard a dozen interpretations of, but he gives them a new perspective on their sacred texts. They thought they knew exactly what their sacred texts meant, but he was able to help them see things in a different light, to make connections between the texts and the events of Jesus’ life which gave a new meaning to those sacred texts. And so their eyes were opened.


We are often blinded by an inherent bias which leads us to ignore or reject any understanding or interpretation of scripture that runs contrary to our own bias, or which runs contrary to what we have normally heard offered as interpretation. It is then useful for those who study the scriptures to ask themselves what is it that they bring before the text, what are our own personal histories, prejudices and biases that cause us to accept one interpretation but reject



In short, whether its speaking to a person, or trying to understand a text, don’t rush. Be prepared to journey with both. Listen to both, and be aware that sometimes our own prejudices can make us blind to what is right in front of us.


Fr. Bruce Botha SJ