Today’s gospel relates that at the meeting of the resurrected Christ with the disciples he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” The line is similar to another one in the gospel of Luke, where Luke writes that on the road to Emmaus “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” The grace and explanation that Jesus gives the disciples in Luke’s gospel is fundament for them to understand a few things.
First of all, God has a plan, a plan that they are involved in. Situating the events they are living within the context of the History of Salvation that God is bringing about allows the disciples to see that the events are not random occurrences, but part of God’s plan. The difficult events they lived cannot be chalked up to happenstance, there is a Divine Will behind it.
Second, since God is leading this plan of salvation, clearly suffering and difficulties are not a mistake, but necessary. Christ even stated to the two on the road to Emmaus “was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Sufferings are not only allowed by God in this plan, but at times necessary for his plan to be carried out.
Third, to comprehend this, to ‘understand’ the role that suffering plays in God’s plan, requires more than worldly knowledge, but a particular grace from God. Without this grace, suffering is simply suffering, a mistake to be remedied.
The Easter season is the perfect time to ask the Lord for this grace. Without this grace, life is very often nonsensical and the difficult moments seem to speak to us of God’s absence or abandonment. Yet, it is not so. True Christianity, as witnessed in the lives of the saints, presents to us another way of living, one in which the events of our life are enlightened, illuminated by the Word of God. As the psalm says, the Word of God is a “light for my steps and a lamp for my path.” If we recognize that we don’t have this light, that we don’t understand how the Lord is able to use the sufferings we experience, we, like the disciples, need to look for the Risen Lord and stay with him. Only through a relationship with Christ do we open ourselves to receiving this grace.