April 7: Station IV – The Stranger Takes Over.

Was it not necessary…? [25-27]

The stranger now ‘takes over’. His listening has played an important part in ‘opening them up’, and making it clear just how badly shaken they are, especially in ‘their faith’, their confidence and trust in God and in Jesus as the Promised One, the Messiah. It is now time to call them back to the truth, and to the hope, that they had believed in when Jesus was with them, but which they clearly had never understood or accepted. But notice he does not tell them who he is—how could they have made sense of that? What he does is what he must have done many times before, while he was with them. Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in the scriptures, showing how it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory.

They must have had strange and wonderful feelings of having heard all this before. It was all coming back to them, and it was almost too much to take in. As they realised afterwards: Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us? He is revealing himself to them ‘through the Word’, even though their eyes are still ‘held’ and they do not recognise him. And an even more important point to make, perhaps, is that he is not revealing himself so much as re-awakening the faith they had previously had in him, and bringing them to see in a totally new way—God’s way—the true meaning of what has happened.

What is this like for us today?

Where might we have experienced something like this? Or where might we expect to experience it?

An experience of hearing/seeing in a completely new way something that we thought we could never understand or accept.

If, like these two disciples, we have tried to be honest about how we feel and what we struggle to accept in the Gospel message [or in the Church’s teaching/practice], how do we hear the stranger/ Jesus when he questions/challenges us: Was it not necessary…?


Rood, Our Lady and English Martyrs, Cambridge.

  • Are we also ‘slow to believe’?
  • How do we hear him telling us that ‘the Way of the Cross’ is necessary—not just for him, but for anyone who accepts to follow him?
  • St Paul [1 Cor 1:18ff] spells out what it means to follow Jesus on the way of the cross: ‘The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’. Do we accept that? How do we understand it?
  • We want to respond, but we need to hear how we are being called, and how we are to act—following the Way of the Cross, seeking always to choose/decide and act according to what God values: ‘what is foolish in the world…what is weak…low and despised…’ [1 Cor 1:27ff].
  • And here we can surely hear the clear call of the Gospel as Pope Francis is proclaiming it: The Church of the poor, for the poor…

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