“Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32). The disciples of Emmaus, who recognise the Risen Christ upon his breaking of the bread, are shaken into realising that something has changed! Their foolishness, their slowness to believe all that the prophets have said (cfr. Lk 24:25) is suddenly overturned upon their encounter with Christ, who makes everything new, beginning with our very existence. And our slow “heart”, weary and shrivelled, devoid of hope, closed off in the worldly context of a futureless present, suddenly begins to “burn” within us, in that unexpected correspondence bestowed upon us by the encounter with Christ, which is the authentic motor of any and every vocation.
Finding themselves in the presence of the Risen Christ changes the very deﬁnition of the existence of the disciples of Emmaus who, having left Jerusalem in mournful nostalgia for a liberation that never came, now retrace their steps with the joyous announcement of their recent encounter. They are entirely transformed; their identity - and therefore the very direction of their journey - has changed in relation to Christ.
So my dear Seminarians and Novices, the priestly identity that you are preparing to receive from the Holy Spirit, through the indispensable agency of the Church, holds the secret of your future, of your every happiness. At one and the same time it is both institutional and charismatic. I say institutional because in fact it passes through the laying on of hands of the Bishop, in the uninterrupted Apostolic Succession, which permits us to trace our heritage back to The Twelve.