Gospel reflection: The Walk to Emmaus

Emmaus

The story of "The walk to Emmaus" (Luke 24:13-35) is jam-packed with lessons to help us better live our lives as Christians. Through these words we learn about humility, spiritual awareness, and hope.

Please see the bottom of this post for the full text of the Bible passage. In the Gospel of Luke, the author tells the story of two men, disciples of Jesus, that walk from Jerusalem to the home of at least one of them in Emmaus. During their walk, towards the end of the day on the Sunday that Jesus resurrected, they were feeling sad and hopeless. The person, who they thought would be their Messiah, the person they thought would liberate them from the oppressive occupation of the Romans and reunite the Kingdom of Israel, ended up suffering humiliation, torture and execution. There was word that perhaps he had resurrected and appeared to the women, but even if true, it was not the dramatic return they had hoped for.

The risen Christ joins them in their walk, but they don’t recognize Him. He then explained to them how much of the scriptures foretold what happened to Jesus, and how His death was necessary. They later recounted that when he explained the Scriptures their hearts felt as if on fire. Once in Emmaus, they invited Him to dinner. Though not the host, Jesus still broke the bread and blessed it. This act helped them recognize Jesus, and Jesus simply vanished in front of their eyes. They then ran back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles that they had witnessed the resurrected Jesus.

This passage teaches me about humility. We are constantly defining how our lives are supposed to be, and how God is supposed to manifest in our lives. We put God into a box that fits our view of the world. How many times do we see Christians fighting against Christians, both thinking that they are absolutely right? Despite everything that Jesus taught, through words and deeds, even the closest disciples did not “get” what His mission was all about. They wanted a physical and earthly king that was to save them from their suffering. They saw His actions as proof that he was that Messiah, and failed to fully comprehend the truth. I pray for the gift of humility and for the Holy Spirit to help me better understand Who our Trinitarian God is, and how He is truly acting in my life. The way He is, not the way I want Him to be.

This passage also provides me a lesson on spiritual awareness. Jesus, Who these disciples followed, was walking with them and teaching them, yet they did not recognize Him. They were lost in their feelings of hopelessness. Perhaps they feared for their lives and worried about the future of the other close disciples of Jesus. How many hours a day do I spend absorbed in my work, planning hundreds of work and life activities, and hurriedly moving from event to event? Yes, I do start my day with prayer and scripture and end my day in a similar fashion. Sometimes I keep that spiritual awareness during the day, but often I lose it to the worldly preoccupations. In those moments I would probably fail to recognize Jesus and how He may be speaking through the words and actions of people who I interact with. I may not also hear the spiritual wisdom that whispers in my mind and heart.

Finally, the passage reinforces in me the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. “Breaking bread” is how the early Christians called the Eucharist. Jesus "took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them." It was when they “broke bread with Jesus” that their sadness disappeared, they encountered the real presence of Jesus, and were filled with the fire and joy of the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist opens our eyes and our heart to experience Jesus in His fullness.

Jesus, thanks for walking with us, every day, and for teaching us the meaning of Scriptures, and the meaning of being faithful Christians.

 

Image: On the Road to Emmaus by James Tissot

 

The Walk to Emmaus:

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [1]

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Lk 24:13–35). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.