May 1, 2020
When I visit elementary school classrooms, a question frequently posed, especially by the younger students, is “What is your favorite Bible story.” My stock response is that I have many favorites but Luke 24, “The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus,” is pretty close to the top. On the Third Easter Sunday we were treated to that very narrative.
I’m sure that you’ve noticed that the actual framework of the story is that of our Mass. It begins with the Word of God. The stranger walking along with the disciples quotes and interprets the Scriptures, explaining how it all pointed to the recent events that had taken place in Jerusalem. Then, at table using the words and gestures of the Last Supper, He breaks the Bread and their eyes are opened. They recognize that this is no stranger but the Risen Christ. With this realization He immediately disappears from their physical eyesight. They immediately hightail it back to the place of their disappointment to announce to the apostles the grace they had experienced.
There’s an aspect of this event that still fascinates me every time I hear the story. Here it is the first Easter Sunday and you might think that the Lord – Risen in Glory – would be making the rounds to manifest Himself to friends and maybe even to enemies. Personally, I think He should have appeared to the likes of Herod and Pilate with a majestic “I told you so.” But no. On the very day of His Resurrection we find him spending a lot of time making the 7 mile hike from Jerusalem to Emmaus with two minor characters, one of whom Luke deemed so unimportant that he didn’t waste ink mentioning his or her name.
Isn’t this extraordinary? Of all the things our Risen Savior could have been doing that afternoon, this is what he chooses to do – spend time with two people.
During these strange days most of us have more time on our hands than usual. The obligations, commitments and usual wide range of our activities have been severely limited or even come to a screeching halt. What are we choosing to do with God’s gift of time? I’m seeing recommendations on what series to binge watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Some ads invite us to learn a new language or monitor a free on-line course. But look to our Lord. On the afternoon of the most important day in the history of the world, He chose to pass a couple of hours with just two people in conversation about things that matter.
Of all the wonderful truths we can learn from the Emmaus Road Story, perhaps in our present challenges, an important lesson might be to take an honest look at how we choose to spend this time. We might share the disciples’ disappointment and disillusionment “over the recent events that have taken place.” The Emmaus Road Event assures us that despite our frustrations, the Lord accompanies us, whether we know it or not. As we walk the road of the pandemic and spend time together in the “inn” of our homes, how present are we to one another? Are we discussing things that matter? Following Christ’s lead might just be eye opening for us, too.
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer