13That same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was about eleven kilometers from Jerusalem. 14As they were talking and thinking about what had happened, 15Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. 16But they did not know who he was.
17Jesus asked them, “What were you talking about as you walked along?”
The two of them stood there looking sad and gloomy. 18Then the one named Cleopas asked Jesus, “Are you the only person from Jerusalem who didn't know what was happening there these last few days?”
19“What do you mean?” Jesus asked.
Those things that happened to Jesus from Nazareth. By what he did and said he showed that he was a powerful prophet, who pleased God and all the people. 20Then the chief priests and our leaders had him arrested and sentenced to die on a cross. 21We had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free! But it has already been three days since all this happened.
22Some women in our group surprised us. They had gone to the tomb early in the morning, 23but did not find the body of Jesus. They came back, saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24Some men from our group went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said. But they didn't see Jesus either.
25Then Jesus asked the two disciples, “Why can't you understand? How can you be so slow to believe all that the prophets said? 26Didn't you know that the Messiah would have to suffer before he was given his glory?” 27Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets.
28When the two of them came near the village where they were going, Jesus seemed to be going farther. 29They begged him, “Stay with us! It's already late, and the sun is going down.” So Jesus went into the house to stay with them.
30After Jesus sat down to eat, he took some bread. He blessed it and broke it. Then he gave it to them. 31At once they knew who he was, but he disappeared. 32They said to each other, “When he talked with us along the road and explained the Scriptures to us, didn't it warm our hearts?” 33So they got up and returned to Jerusalem.
The two disciples found the eleven apostles and the others gathered together. 34And they learned from the group that the Lord was really alive and had appeared to Peter. 35Then the disciples from Emmaus told what happened on the road and how they knew he was the Lord when he broke the bread.
Many of us can think back to a special vacation that involves moving through some spectacular scenery, perhaps accompanied by some good friends. These experiences are planted in our minds for years to come and we continue to go back and cherish these memories. In the passage for today, we find a couple travelling on the road to their home in the tiny village of Emmaus and an unknown traveller comes and walks along with them. It must have been a journey they never forgot.
Their mood is one of intense sadness and disappointment because their hopes had been shattered (21).They are talking about Jesus and the events leading to his crucifixion. “We had hoped that he was the one…”, they told their travelling companion but now it was all over. Christ had done less for them than they had expected.
We identify with these sentiments when our own journey includes hopes that never materialize. It may be the hope to have our own children, the expectations of a promising career, or the goal of retiring by age 55.We prayed and placed these desires in God’s hands but he has done less for us than what we expected.
The traveller opens the Scriptures for them (27) and then opens their eyes to his identity as the risen Christ (31).The solution to our disappointment so often lies in the Scripture, properly interpreted. When they reach their home and invite this traveller in, they realize it is the risen Christ who has been with them each step of the journey.
In our spiritual pilgrimage, God often feels absent and Christ seems distant but he is with us each day of our earthly journey, including today. When we realize this we can find him in the Scriptures since he is the key and integrating factor to the story (27).We then experience our hearts being strangely warmed by an inner fire (32).It is the heart dried out by trouble that burns the best.
I come to you, Holy Father and risen Christ and thank you that you will never leave me or forsake me. Open my heart to the Scriptures today so that I can meet you there. Give me strength for the journey and reveal yourself to me in new and unusual ways.