Luke 24: 13-35
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
He said, “What has happened?” They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up – Simon saw him!” Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
Many people find this story really helpful at times when they are down – hopes gone, illness and many of the crosses of life. Like for the apostles, Jesus was not visibly present – vanished and then they knew he was raised…like us. The presence, active and loving remained. He had accompanied them in a dark journey of life. Jesus went to them; he did not await their visit. Somehow he knew that people of his ‘set’ were in darkness and maybe despair. This is the call of the church – to be with us in prayer, community and service always, and especially for what Pope Francis calls ‘the peripheries of life’. Most of us spend some time there, and appreciate the help of love and faith.
Then they went to tell the story of how they were changed. Faith grows in sharing it. A father said – ‘in my child’s first communion, I got faith stronger.’ If we are honest and open with each other in faith, the faith of everyone grows.
They told their story of Jesus in the here and now. Not reminiscing on what things were once like in Galilee. Notice this week where the Lord is present in love, care, creation, an uplift of joy, prayer and the Eucharist.
Every journey of life can be an Emmaus journey where we meet the Lord. Every altar can be the altar of Emmaus, and indeed every meal can be a time of friendship, care and nourishment for body and for soul.