"How many times in life we hoped, how many times we felt a step away from happiness, and then we found ourselves disappointed," he reflected.
"But Jesus walks with all discouraged people who go forward with head down. And walking with them, in a subtle way, he succeeds in returning hope."
When he does speak to them, Jesus does it first through the Scriptures. In the Bible, you will not find stories of "easy heroism, thunderous campaigns of conquest," the Pope said. "True hope is never cheap: it always goes through defeats."
In fact, Francis said, Jesus models this for us by not being the kind of leader that drags his people to victory by violently destroying his opponents. Instead, he takes a position of disdain himself.
Later that same night, when the disciples have invited him to eat dinner with them, they recognize him when he breaks the bread, repeating the gesture of the first Eucharist.
"In this series of gestures, is there not the whole story of Jesus? And is there not, in every Eucharist, the sign of what the Church must be? Jesus takes us, blesses us, 'breaks' our lives – because there is no love without sacrifice – and offers it to others, offers it to everyone."
Jesus' encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is quick, he said, but in it we find "the fate of the Church."
"He tells us that the Christian community is not locked up in a fortified citadel, but walks in its most vital environment; namely, the road. And there it meets people, with their hopes and their disappointments, sometimes heavy."
"The Church listens to the stories of everyone, as they emerge from the depths of personal conscience, in order then to offer the Word of Life, the testimony of love, faithful love to the end," he concluded. "And then, the hearts of people return to burning hope."