By Jillian Zaczyk
It was clear our friendship was over, and I was devastated. Like most friendships, we had spent years talking about our lives, crushes, struggles, and hopes.
Throughout the years, we stopped prioritizing each other
and it felt like we were strangers rather than the women we envisioned being in each other weddings, going on vacations together, and our kids calling “Auntie.”
The straw the broke the camel’s back was that I had an important event coming up and I wanted her to be there. She agreed with excitement only to tell me the week of she wouldn’t be there anymore. With no good excuse, I felt crushed, and I let her know. My hurt feelings and anger got the best of me and I said things I regret. I realized I wasn’t being a good friend either.
Even over a decade later, I look back and still have feelings of loss, disappointment, and sadness.
Losing a friend is a painful experience. Whether that loss happens in a single blow or gradually over time, there is a bond and a part of you you feel you’ll struggle to ever rekindle again.
I imagine the disciples on the road to Emmaus were feeling this and so much more remembering their friend Jesus. They even say later to Jesus that “we were hoping that he would be the one.” They not only felt the loss of their love and comradery with Jesus, but also their hopes and dreams died with him on that cross too. Jesus was both friend and Messiah. Even the other disciple’s testimony of Jesus return, couldn’t repair their broken hearts.
Were they regretting giving everything up to befriend Jesus? Did they miss the way he listened and spoke with compassion?
What would you most miss from your relationship with Jesus?
As the story progresses, we learn Jesus is a savior who doesn’t leave his friends, ever. Jesus models what it looks like to be a friend, and I think I learned a couple pointers from him.
JESUS WALKS WITH THEM
Jesus doesn’t approach them and rebuke their feelings or take over the conversation telling them what really happened in Jerusalem. Rather, Jesus asks them to tell him their story. As friends, we are called to be companions of compassion and humility. Jesus does this by letting them express their story, not imposing his view, and listening.
JESUS REMINDS US OF WHO WE ARE
As many of Jewish people thought there would be a political Messiah rather than a suffering servant, the disciples were questioning themselves and their relationship with Jesus. As Thomas Groome says, “Their story and shattered hopes are on the table.” Jesus says they are “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.” They had spent months with Jesus believing and living out their faith, but they were turning to their old way of life, defense mechanisms, and habits. Do we do that in times of distress? Upon hearing their story, Jesus reminds the disciples of who they are. Jesus knew these men, and reminds them of all they knew in their heads and possessed in their hearts. As friends, we are called to be supportive and bring out the best in others, especially when they doubt themselves.
HE TOOK BREAD, SAID THE BLESSING, BROKE IT, AND GAVE IT TO THEM
These are the same verbs that are used as at the Last Supper. Illustrating, Jesus is a consistent, stand up, and loyal friend. Jesus talks the talk and walks the walk. He never imposes himself on these men. He waits for their invitation. Sometimes we think we know what is best for our friends, but Jesus shows us what is best is to just be us. The disciples ultimately recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Jesus’s disciples knew who he was too. As friends, we are called to be the bread of life and friendship to others by being true to ourselves consistently.
This Easter season I hope to apply Jesus’s example of friendships both to my relations with others and my friendship with Jesus too.**
**Many of the interpretations of the reading are inspired by my classes with Thomas Groome. I accredit him with many of these insights, and am grateful for being inspired by him and the BC STM staff.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jillian wants to live in a world filled with corny jokes and coffee mugs that refill themselves. She is a youth minister, teacher, and missionary discovering God's joy and humor around the world. Her mission is to encounter Jesus and grow in solidarity with everyone she meets, especially the poor. Jillian graduated in May 2015 with a Master of Theological Studies from Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry. She and her husband, Jason, live in Cleveland with their lovable labrador retriever.