Finding Jesus on the Road to Emmaus . . . and Main Street
“Everything, in retrospect, is obvious.” ~ Michael M. Lewis
In today's Gospel (Luke 24:13-35) we encounter two of Jesus' disciples as they journey the 7 miles from Jerusalem to a town known as Emmaus, this 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, this unexpected guest was in fact the very subject of their conversation and debate.
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, Jesus declines to disclose His identity, instead opting to allow the two men to give their account of things, complete with their perception of the 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 indeed experienced their redemption in the form of that which he hadn’t fully come to understan.. 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.
Jesus is always at our side, during the good times, the bad times and the times in between. We oftentimes fail to recognize Him, at times even believing that we have been abandoned by Him. Jesus Himself echoed those same sentiments during His time of agony, famously crying out "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46). Jesus utters these words not because he feels abandoned by the Father. By virtue of the Holy Trinity, Jesus was one with the Father and therefore could not abandon Himself. Instead Jesus speaks these words so as to unite Himself intimately to the thoughts so oftentimes echoed by mankind, for he shared in our humanity in every way except sin. (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus talks to us in prayer, this we know. 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, choices 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?
Just as Jesus had already won redemption for Israel he has done so for all those who put their faith and hope in the Him. He has won redemption for us, this despite the fact that we tend to easily forget this during our deepest moments of trouble and despair, the times when we need to remember it most.
Life can at times be merciless and unforgiving 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 of Saint 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 words 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.