The Emmaus Gospel story from Luke is one of my favorite scripture stories. One reason is that the disciples in the story were doing ‘their own thing.’ They were not gathered with the other disciples in one place; they decided to leave Jerusalem – just the two of them. Sometimes I am like that. I don’t want to follow the crowd. And sometimes that is a good thing. But if I am so caught up in ‘me’ and doing my own thing and concentrating on how something affects just me, I can lose opportunities to learn from others and grow in faith. But just like these disciples, when I am going off on my own, Jesus follows me (or sends another guide), walks with me, and brings me back to the community. Has that ever happened to you? How did Jesus call you back?
Another reason I love this story is that the disciples on the road to Emmaus were slow to understand what had happened. They knew the details – that Jesus had been captured, condemned to death, suffered humiliations, and finally died on the cross. He had been laid in the tomb and when the women went to anoint his body, it was missing! They were lost. They were like sheep without a shepherd! But this stranger walks with them and, after hearing what they have to say, he explains a shortened version of salvation history. And this story touches their hearts so that when He breaks bread in their presence, they recognize Him as the Risen Jesus.
I recognize myself here, too. Sometimes I get lost in the details. I get easily discouraged and begin to lose hope. I miss important things. So Jesus sends me companions on the journey to walk with me and share their insights with me. At some point my eyes are opened and I understand. Do you ever miss the ‘big picture’ because you are self-centered? Luckily for me – and hopefully you, too – we encounter our own Emmaus stories at each liturgy where Jesus reveals Himself. The disciples recognized Jesus by His actions. He took the bread, said the blessing, broke the bread. Through the actions of the priest, Jesus does the same at every liturgy – take, say, break, give. Lucky us! We are truly blessed.