"How often do we despair by refusing to believe that God's omnipotence is not one of power and authority, but rather of love, forgiveness and life!"
Eventually, it is in the "breaking of the bread," the Eucharist, that the two disciples recognize the Risen Jesus and are "filled with joy, confidence and enthusiasm, ready to bear witness," he said.
Unless we also "tear apart the veil clouding our vision and shatter the hardness of our hearts and our prejudices, we will never be able to recognize the face of God."
It was precisely in this darkness and despair that Jesus approaches and "turns their despair into life," Francis said, explaining that "when we reach the depths of failure and helplessness, when we rid ourselves of the illusion that we are the best, sufficient unto ourselves and the center of our world, then God reaches out to us to turn our night into dawn, our affliction into joy, our death into resurrection."
We must follow the same path of the disciples, not remaining in doubt or despair, focused only on the cross, but coming to realize the truth and hope of the resurrection, he said, stressing that "we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power."
This experience must also translate into how we treat others, he said, saying "the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus teaches us that it is of no use to fill our places of worship if our hearts are empty of the fear of God and of his presence."
"It is of no use to pray if our prayer to God does not turn into love for our brothers and sisters. All our religiosity means nothing unless it is inspired by deep faith and charity."
The Pope said that in this sense, it's useless to be concerned about our image, "since God looks at the soul and the heart and he detests hypocrisy. For God, it is better not to believe than to be a false believer, a hypocrite!"
Just like the disciples saw and believed, returning immediately to Jerusalem to share their experience, the Church also "needs to know and believe that Jesus lives within her and gives her life in the Eucharist, the scriptures and the sacraments," he said.
Francis concluded by encouraging those present, "filled with joy, courage and faith" like the disciples of Emmaus, to "return to your own Jerusalem, that is, to your daily lives, your families, your work and your beloved country."
"Do not be afraid to open your hearts to the light of the Risen Lord, and let him transform your uncertainty into a positive force for yourselves and for others," he said.
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"Do not be afraid to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, because the strength and treasure of the believer lies in a life of love!"