Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Road to Emmaus

The Gospel today is filled with truly heart-rending images. As the two disciples are walking along, alone, you can almost hear the sadness and confusion in their voices when Jesus comes and speaks with them. They refer to Jesus as “A prophet mighty in deed and word,” they had truly hoped in him. “Our chief priests and rulers handed him over,” they felt betrayed by their own leaders. “But we were hoping he would redeem Israel,” they were hoping, but apparently not anymore. And then, the missing body of Jesus just compounded their confusion about the whole affair. Their pain is even evident in the fact that they were leaving Jerusalem. They saw Jesus killed, they can’t find his body, and now the other disciples are reporting visions. Perhaps these disciples thought they were just hallucinations. What’s the point in hanging around Jerusalem any longer?

During his three years of public ministry, Jesus had repeatedly explained to his disciples how all the Old Testament prophecies actually applied to him, so now he does it again as he walks with these two disciples on the road to Emmaus. And then he breaks bread with them, and in Luke’s gospel, this breaking of the bread is the first time the disciples recognize Jesus.

This story is heartwarming because of how gentle Jesus is with the confusion and the sadness of the disciples. He doesn’t appear only to the disciples whose faith was strong; he appears to the disciples whose faith was shaken. He doesn’t appear only to those who understood the resurrection, he appears to those who were confused by the empty tomb, and explains it to them. He guides them into understanding. He doesn’t stand afar off and demand they find their way to him; he walks the road with them.

Just as he does with these two disciples, Jesus walks the road with you and with me. Even when our faith is weak like the disciples: They said “We thought he would be the one to redeem Israel,” and we say “We thought he would be the one to heal my spouse,” “We thought he would be the one to pull our children from their damaging choices.” At times, the trials of this life cause our faith to be weak. Jesus doesn’t stand at a distance, demanding that our faith be stronger, he walks the road to Emmaus with us.

So as we draw near to our own Emmaus in the Eucharist, as we prepare to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread at each and every altar, remember that no matter how painful or confusing life is, Jesus always walks the road with you.

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