( A commentary on Luke 24: 13-35)
Daily Reflection – 4/7/2021
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’s disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)
Luke is a masterful story teller. He is adept at describing scenes and events. Today’s Gospel is no exception.
Here we have Cleopas and a companion (possibly Luke himself) walking to Emmaus, saddened, deeply disappointed, not understanding how the one they believed to be the Messiah was no longer with them. They’ve lost faith. They’re finding it too hard to believe. It’s too dark. Jesus is dead he must have just been a prophet like the prophets of old who died. They distance themselves from the place where they had experienced the most powerful of love stories, as if to erase everything that had happened.
In their story lies all the ingredients of the Christian life – yours and mine.
When we are disappointed, the first thing that comes to mind is to seek an escape. We want to get out of whatever situation it may be: a relationship, a job. Disappointment is often accompanied by anger, and anger blinds. That is why, as we make our escape from a frustrating situation, we aren’t even exactly sure where we’re going. What matters is to get away, even if we aren’t sure where to.
Disappointed and upset, incapable of finding an answer, we inescapably fall into sadness. And, as Luke tells us, sadness too is blinding. We are no longer capable of seeing what is happening in the present because our hearts are trapped in the past.
When our hearts don’t sense Christ, it’s easy to say, “Maybe he’s not God, maybe Jesus is not as powerful as I thought.” But they were wrong and so are we if we think that way.
We see in today’s Gospel how Jesus helps Cleopas and his companion to reinterpret this story of love in order to help them overcome their disappointment. Jesus opens the family picture album before them: he recounts the events of the Scriptures highlighting all the signs of God’s presence in their loves. Jesus helps them to see (their eyes were opened) how God had accompanied them.
When we can’t see Jesus and can only think of everything wrong with our lives, we should pause and check our memories and ask, “Am I being selective in what I am remembering?” How has Jesus done good things for me and shown himself to me in ways in the past. If he has been good for years and years why would I assume he would stop now?
Because when we look over the signs of love that fill the story of our lives, our hearts soften. If the disciples’ disappointment had driven them to flee, it is love that gives them the desire to return.
For those times when you find yourself on the road to Emmaus, don’t give up hope even though it can be a long and discouraging journey. And if you know someone who is traveling the road to Emmaus, walk alongside that person for a while. Do not doubt that the Lord will walk with you as well, no matter who you are and no matter where you are going.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart to recognize your presence with me and to understand the truth of your saving word. Nourish me with your life-giving word and with the bread of life.”
Just like our Messiah suffered so too Christians will suffer. God doesn’t promise us pain free lives where we always feel his presence near us. We will go through trial and darkness and sometimes feel alone. We can’t see Christ because of everything going on. But God can use this time to draw us nearer to Christ.
Today’s gospel is the good news that the hero of the story is alive and well. It’s all pointing to our need for him. It’s all about this coming savior who is going to pay the ultimate sacrifice. It’s all about Jesus, his suffering, his death, and his life-giving resurrection So when we’re frustrated and discouraged and can’t sense God’s presence that’s exactly what we need to focus on – he mirrored our lives in his mortal life and he reminds us of his eternal love in his resurrection.