ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
(A biblical reflection on WEDNESDAY OF THE OCTAVE OF EASTER, April 27, 2011)
Gospel Reading: Lk 24:13-35
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, name Cleopas, answered Him, “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the One to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:13-35 RSV)
We all have to admit that life is full of surprises. Today’s Gospel recalls how two of Jesus’ disciples came back toJerusalemto tell of their big surprises. The two disciples had been sad and disappointed. They thought all their hopes were gone. Jesus was supposed to save their nation from theRoman empire, but then He had let Judas and armed men capture Him without a fight, and at the end He was murdered on the cross.
On this Sunday these two mean were taking a seven-mile hike to Emmaus. Obviously the were sad and confused over the loss of Jesus. Then a stranger came up to join them, asking what was their conversation all about. After a few minutes of silence plus the expression of sadness, they told the stranger that it was concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was condemned to death and crucified. The first surprise: The stranger explained why Christ had to suffer and die before He could win His victory.
When at the journey’s end He consented to have supper with them, this surprising stranger took bread and said, “This is my Body, given for you.” The second surprise: Jesus had been with them all the way, and they did not recognize Him. Is not this our life, too? We fail to recognize how close the Lord is to us all the time. Maybe we do not even recognize Him in the breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist. We also fail to recognize how God is there always, helping us through others.
One of the sad and happy surprises each of us will have some day, is finding out how much other people did for us – and we did not appreciate or recognize it. How many peop0le prayed for us, how many good examples were given us that we ignored, how many little favors were done for us day after day by our own family and by others, and we took it all for granted, never appreciated it, never returned the favors.
We are all one in the Body of Christ, the Church. We either help each other on the way, or our actions help to keep others away from God. See how much Jesus Christ had done for His followers. Yet they failed to recognize it. That’s why they were said: they failed to understand.
Short Prayer: Thank You Lord Jesus. From this reading we can learn from the two disciples of Yours, Lord. We can learn how suffering and sadness lead to joy, because in You they have found true meaning. We can look forward to that resurrection and reunion with You. There we will see that You have been with us all along the way. Amen.
Jakarta, April 27, 2011
A Christian Pilgrim