How we encounter Jesus is different for each of us, but I think there can be a common denominator. The approach that Jesus adopts on the road to Emmaus is full of compassion and gentleness. He invites Himself into their space and then gently invites them into His. I am most likely not alone in wishing that I could be one of those two to walk, to talk, and, especially, to listen as He breaks open the scriptures of old and enlightens His listeners concerning the constant prophetic references that are made over the millennia to Him. Is every encounter with Jesus so richly blessed with His gentleness and compassion? Perhaps we should direct that question to St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Still, I think there is a common denominator.
St. Faustina, in paragraph 301 of her diary, recounts these words of Jesus: “Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy.”
Could it be that the common denominator of each person’s encounter with Jesus is so obvious that it escapes our attention? It’s quite evident when He tells the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again” (Jn8:11). It is not so obvious – but there, nonetheless – when He allows her accusers to depart one by one in silence without further embarrassing any of them. The same mercy is also present at the wedding feast in Cana. It is present in all His healings and His teachings and, yes, in His encounter with Saul heading to Damascus to expand his persecution of Christ’s followers (Acts 9:1-19).
As I contemplate this reality I can’t help but recall my own encounters with Jesus and how His mercy is present every time, filled with compassion and gentleness. It causes me to consider how often I allow Jesus living within me to share His mercy, filled with gentleness and compassion, with the others with whom I engage so often during my daily life – the very same mercy He shared from the cross!