Monastic Guest – Joe Trester
Road to Emmaus
Monastic Guest Program Participant (April 2 to April 28, 2019)
In the Gospel of Luke, two of Jesus’ disciples decide to take off after his crucifixion. They are on the road to Emmaus when Jesus encounters them. They do not recognize him at first. But after explaining the need for his death through the scriptures and after breaking bread for a meal, they finally realize who he is!
Father Columba, the current Director of the Monastic Guest program, preached on this text at Mass one day and said that what is important about this text is that the disciples got a course correction. Jesus became their GPS, heading them back to Jerusalem where the whole world had changed because of his Resurrection….
My four weeks as a Monastic Guest was a lot like that Emmaus experience. It provided a much needed and, in some ways very unanticipated, course correction. At first, I found myself on the road to Emmaus because Jesus had not turned out to be who I expected him to be. I wanted him to fit my expectations. But as I lived and worked with Trappist monks, I began to turn back toward Jerusalem, to an understanding that we all experience new life in Christ, together, in solitude yet in community. Despite my expectations, the tomb is, indeed, empty and life can begin anew each and every day….
As a result of the new life that surrounded me daily, I came to know this one thing for sure. I got a great deal more out of the experience with my monk brothers than I contributed. As we went through the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass every day, I felt myself being drawn deeper and deeper into scripture. I listened to great homilies that came from a perspective of men who had peeled away the accretions of the world to reveal the heart of the Gospel.
Yet life at Mepkin was far more than worship. I discovered that in everyday life, even the mundane things were full of meaning. Silence permeated our days. Yet when words were spoken, they were kind and gracious and funny and meaningful. Daily living in community can be difficult but it more often is full of humility and love. I observed that time and time again….
If you have ever had even a glimmer of a thought of coming to Mepkin for this program, do yourself the favor of a lifetime and do it. I’m willing to bet that you will find your own GPS that will send you back to Jerusalem….