Third Sunday of Easter: Luke 24:13-35
We all, each one of us, are walking on our individual journeys through life dealing with our questions either by ourselves or with others. Many times we ask, “Where is God in all of this?”
Today’s Gospel account is about two disciples dejectedly journeying from Jerusalem to a nearby hamlet called Emmaus when Jesus appeared among them. The thing that is curious to me is that today’s account revolves around the recognition of Jesus. Today, we find this group of disciples at first, failing to recognize Jesus, and then realizing who he is. What happened? Why did they, at first, think He was a stranger and later come to realize who He really was?
What seems to be the factor deals with the question of how we see others. Obviously, we’re not talking here about simply seeing with our eyes, we’re talking, rather, about seeing with our hearts at deeper levels of knowing and understanding. That’s something we all know about, isn’t it? For instance, recall how you saw and understood your parents when you were a child then as a teenager. The way you saw them changed, didn’t it? Now, think about how you as an adult know and understand your parents. It’s vastly different, isn’t it?
What changed? Did they change or did you change? I think we all know what changed. Their love, care and concern for us remained constant. It was our acceptance of their love that went through different stages. Isn’t that likewise true with others whom you love? Isn’t it true with your friends? I think it was also true with the Jesus’ disciples. Huge events cause changes in the ways we see others. Husbands see their wives quite differently after their first child is born and wives likewise see their husbands in new ways.
The disciples walking on the road to Emmaus were talking about all of the stupendous events that had occurred surrounding the crucifixion and death of Jesus. They were terribly upset because they had thought Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah that God had sent, and look what had happened! They were dazed and bewildered by it all; they were trying to make sense out of it, “Where was God in all of this,” they wondered?
The Gospel account then takes us to the one thing that opened their eyes, the event that allowed them to make all of the connections, the central piece in the puzzle. It was the breaking of the bread, when the “Stranger” who was among them took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them to eat. Suddenly, their eyes of recognition were opened. They no longer saw Him with just their eyes, but they recognized him with their hearts. They saw Him with their newly awakened faith. They saw him now in that event where He promised to be with them always.
Jesus comes to you and me in ways we least expect. We know of our own moments of surprise, our own moments of wonder, when suddenly we are aware of God’s presence to us, when out of the blue we hear what He’s saying to us. To deny that He is, in fact, present to us is to deny the testimony of countless numbers of people who, down through 2,000 years of Christian history, tell us of their similar “Walks to Emmaus,” telling us of their similar moments of coming to recognize Jesus and their encounters with Him.
May you soon have some time to walk your own road to Emmaus. For without His presence with us, we certainly will feel depressed and defeated. Without His presence, we will not be journeying to a destination, we will simply be wandering.