Our Journey From Jerusalem to Emmaus....the road goes on forever
In today's Gospel from Luke (24:13-35), we encounter two of Jesus' disciples as they journeyed the 7 miles from Jerusalem to a town known as Emmaus on the heels of Jesus' crucifixion. Downcast and perplexed, Cleopas and his friend were "conversing and debating" when suddenly they realized they had company. Unbeknownst to them, the 3rd man to join the scrum was in fact Jesus. Perhaps in an effort to gauge the word on the street, or maybe He simply felt that his walking companions were not yet mentally or spiritually prepared to have the word made flesh revealed to them at that exact moment, Jesus declines to disclose His identity, instead opting to allow the two men to give their account of things, complete with their perceived repercussions. In expressing his dismay at the turn of events, Cleopas goes on to say that "we were hoping he would be the one to redeem Israel", not realizing of course that Israel had in fact experienced their redemption in the form of the greatest act of love ever known to man, and it was carried out less than 72 hours prior by the very man he was speaking to.
And so too it goes for us.
One can easily read this story and draw a parallel to our own lives; Jesus is always at our side, during the good times, the bad times and the times in between. We of course oftentimes fail to recognize Him, and at times even go so far as to say we've been abandoned by Him. Jesus Himself echoed those same sentiments during His time of agony, famously uttering "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46).
For those inclined to engage in deep prayer, their encounters with Jesus are genuine and at times life changing. We learn at an early age the importance of prayer and getting into the proper spiritual frame of mind, for Jesus in fact talks to us in prayer. But is it possible that Jesus also talks to us through the people that He has, through no accident or random coincidence, put in our lives? If so, logic dictates that Jesus is using us as a means through which He communicates to others as well. So what type of message are we sending to our brothers and sisters in Christ through our attitude, words and actions? Are we bringing Jesus and the foretaste of heaven that he promises into their lives or are we bringing something far different instead? This reading affords us a very unique opportunity to examine our conscience in that regard.
Just as Jesus had already won redemption for Israel, Cleopas and all those who put their faith in the Lord, He has done the very same thing for us, this despite the fact that we tend to easily forget that message, which is coincidentally the cornerstone of our faith, during our moments of deepest trouble and despair. Life can be as tough and unforgiving as an inner city basketball rim, and although we all know that we're made for eternity, the Landlord still expects a rent check that will clear on the first of the month and the boss still wants to know when that monstrously complex Excel Spreadsheet that was due yesterday will be completed. Now more than ever it might be wise to heed the advice Padre Pio, who tells us to "Pray, hope and don't worry." Or as a friend of mine once said, "if you're worryin' you ain't praying....if you're prayin', you ain't worryin',"
In addition to the importance of daily prayer and gaining familiarity with Scripture ("Truly
I say to you, Heaven and Earth will pass away but my words will not pass away" - (Matthew 24:35), the Road to Emmaus teaches us the importance of human companionship as we forge our own journey. Jesus reveals Himself to us in the form of his followers, and when you're ready, He will use you too as the conduit through which His redeeming message will flow. It's an opportunity far too important to squander; eternity is at stake.
My prayer for all of us is that we eagerly seek to become the sacred vessel through which Jesus' works and promises can be transported to our brothers and sisters in Christ.