Acts 2:14,22-33, 1 Peter 1:17-21, Luke 24:13-35
We need the Road to Emmaus
The liturgy of today presents to us the amazing and inspiring story of the road to Emmaus. The Road to Emmaus is a widely read story that we always read during the time of Easter. So, almost every person is conversant with the story.
Hence, this story from deep reflection has a lot of spiritual meaning. In today’s reflection, we take the gospel as our main focus as usual and possibly apply the other readings towards the end. So, many things happened on the way to Emmaus.
The road to Emmaus represents a spiritual journey, a journey of encounter, spiritual awakening, deeper reflection, total immersion with Jesus, Jesus’ invisible recognition and presence in the time of our grief and confusion.
This is not just an ordinary story but one that truly teaches us how we can be transformed through intimate encounters and union with Jesus. So, we shall walk through this reflection with in-depth and exegetic analysis to bring out the spiritual lessons in this inspiring story.
Before the Encounter with Jesus.
1. Before the journey to Emmaus, the disciples of Jesus hid in fear. Luke started this story immediately after he narrated how Peter ran to the tomb immediately after the resurrection of Jesus.
Then Luke explained that on that same day, two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to Emmaus. What this means is that the journey to Emmaus happened on the same day.
2. Secondly, It was not stipulated what they are going to Emmaus to do. Luke did not tell us if they came from Emmaus.
But since, later, they invited Jesus to have dinner with them, it could be that they went to a home of one of them, or they visited someone and decided to have a rest since they later came back to Jerusalem.
3. It was also obvious that the disciples of Jesus did not go back to Galilee immediately after the Passover. They went with Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, but they were unlucky that their master was later arrested, mocked and crucified in Jerusalem.
They could not go back to Galilee. This eventually shows how depressed, forlorn, afraid, devastated and sorrowful they are.
4. Remember how the apostles were quarrelling among themselves in Luke 9:46-47 about who is the greatest among them.
They were thinking that Jesus would hand over to them the kingdom of Israel. That is why they asked Jesus before His ascension in Acts 1:6, if it is now, He will restore the kingdom to Israel.
Also during the Journey to Emmaus, Cleopas in verse 21 was telling Jesus that they hoped that He was the one who is going to redeem their nations politically. In verse 17 of today’s gospel, Luke tells us that they were downcast.
5. They were expecting Jesus to be a political Messiah who would save them from the hands of their enemies. They were disappointed that the Messiah died. Before, they were calling Jesus “rabbi”, “Lord”, “Master” etc, now they referred to him as a prophet.
Cleopas said outrightly in verse 19, that Jesus was only a prophet who is powerful in word and deeds before God.
You will discover that Cleopas does not refer to Jesus again as the Messiah. Therefore, before the encounter with Jesus, their statements and deeds showed how disappointed, forlorn and devastated they are. They actually must have lost hope.
6. This happens when we always expect God to act the way we want Him to act. It happens when we think we have done several prayers and novenas and then expect God to answer our prayers immediately or solve a pressing need but instead of doing what we want, other things which are not even our expectations happen and which in no way are connected to how we want God to answer our prayers.
When this happens, we feel so disappointed with God, lose hope in Him and even misunderstand whatever thing God does in our lives. We need the road to Emmaus in our spiritual lives to understand whatever God is planning for us.
During the Road to Emmaus: The Encounter with Jesus.
1. Now, as the two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which is seven miles from Jerusalem, they encountered Jesus. They were busily gisting about all that happened in Jerusalem within those few days.
Now as they were talking together about all that had happened, Jesus, himself came up and walked by their side. Luke tells us that Jesus prevented them from recognizing Him.
Jesus came walking with them but they could not recognize him. They focus more on their situation, instead of focusing on the divine presence among them. At least, they would have asked Jesus who He is.
Jesus came to them at the point of their grief, devastation and loss of faith.
2. At that moment we also are devastated, disappointed, and tempted to lose faith, Jesus has not forsaken us still.
As He made himself available to the Emmaus disciples but they could not recognise Him. He keeps making Himself available to us in our time of grief.
In Psalm 46:1, The scripture says that God is always our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, even at those moments we think He has forsaken us, He still makes Himself available.
Just like the Emmaus disciples keep on talking about the event that happened, instead of trying to question the stranger that came to their midst and ask who he is, is the same way we always focus entirely on our troubles and distress, instead of trying to focus on the Divine Presence around us and within us.
3. This is why we need the road to Emmaus to come to enlightenment. We need to be taught by Jesus, we need to study his word, to truly understand that God does not promise us a problem-free world.
He only promises us that He will continue to be with us even in times of trouble, therefore, despite the grieving moments, God keeps showering us with His graces to help us overcome at last.
4. When Jesus came to them, He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ Then Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’
Cleopas shared with him about the Jesus of Nazareth Whom they hoped would save Israel, but he was later crucified and buried. Then, two whole days have gone by since that happened; but Women came to them with the news that he is alive.
What astounded them more was that some of their friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but they are yet to see Jesus. Jesus then berates their lack of faith and knowledge about the messiah.
He explains to them the need for the messiah to suffer before he enters his glory. Jesus began to teach them.
4b. This is a big lesson for all the Christians that keep on thinking that Christianity is only about signs, wonders, miracles, breakthroughs, glory, testimonies, success etc.
Sometimes our destinies can involve the journey of betrayal, heavy crosses and devastating moments. Each one also has what it comes to achieving in our lives one by one.
4c. Just like Jesus berates the disciples for thinking that Christ would not suffer, he continually teaches us every day that life is not a bed of roses.
There are times of joy and also times of sorrow. There are times of crown and the cross. We also had moments where we encountered thorns and thistles.
Therefore, we need a road to Emmaus, we need a moment of encounter that will help us understand that deep union with Jesus Christ is beyond miracle spirituality.
5. Jesus then takes his time to teach the disciples, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
Jesus opens their eyes to know Him very well.
This, in essence, reveals, for us to understand what is doing in our lives, we need to take time to know Him. Good knowledge of God will eventually teach us that He is not wicked. He is a God of love, so when He sends us challenges, some could be for a reason.
Not all challenges are bad. This encounter also suggests the need to study the scriptures always so that we can come to a full knowledge of Jesus Christ. We can gradually encounter Him through His word.
The End of the Journey to Emmaus .
When the disciples of Emmaus drew near to the village to which they were going, Jesus made it as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. Jesus went in to stay with them.
While he was with them at the table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them.
Then, it was then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him. He vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
This explains the power of the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, Jesus opens their eyes. Therefore, our journey through the road to Emmaus must lead us to fall in love with the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Eucharist.
I always tell people that a constant relationship with the Blessed Sacrament will change our lives.
Nobody comes close to the Blessed Sacrament and remains the same. If we need Jesus, we shall surely encounter Him through the breaking of bread.
What is The Road to Emmaus.
Therefore, the road to Emmaus is that spiritual journey that brings us back to God. It is that spiritual journey that will gradually teach us about Jesus and His saving power.
The Road to Emmaus is that spiritual journey where we encounter Jesus one on one and allow him to talk deeply to our souls. It is that spiritual journey that refreshes our spirit.
The Road to Emmaus is the decision to walk with Jesus just like the disciples did. Before the road to Emmaus, the disciples were afraid, forlorn, distressed and devastated. But the journey to Emmaus brought them back to life. Later they were shouting, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’”
Therefore, this is the road or the journey of spiritual and self-reflection, when we allow God to speak directly to our hearts.
We need the Road to Emmaus.
Before the disciples walked on the road to Emmaus, they were downcast but when they allowed Jesus to talk to them, their spirits were revived. They came to life again. Therefore, We need the road to Emmaus to be spiritually alive again.
We need this road in our times of suffering, distress, and those moments we are tempted to lose faith. We need this road at those moments we think God does not exist. This is the road that will help to bring us back to God.
It is the road when we decide to immerse ourselves deeply in the scriptures. A time to desire visitation to the Eucharist. After this encounter our lives will be transformed.
1. When life hits us hard, we easily lose faith. Sometimes we focus so much on the condition that we forget that God is still with us even in times of suffering. We often do not recognise the presence of God and the power of God in times of challenges.
Just like Jesus comes to direct the disciples, He also may have been talking to us through friends, scriptures, inspirations etc about the reason for the condition, but we do not pay the necessary attention.
This is the reason many Christians today lost faith in God.
They were unable to discover the mighty hand of God in times of hard situations. Just like the Emmaus disciples, sometimes we think that everything about God is all about miracles.
God sometimes causes us to pass through something to refine and properly redirect us.
2. The Emmaus experience also teaches us that Christianity is not all about going to church or hearing about Jesus. It involves these and then goes deeper than that to involve a more intimate relationship with Jesus.
From today’s experience, we can discover that those disciples knew Jesus, but when they met Him, they could not recognize Him.
They have heard about Jesus, and they have listened to many testimonies about Jesus, yet they did not recognise Him until they listened to him and dined with Him.
Therefore to listen and dine with Jesus is a message of intimate and loving encounters with the Lord.
Therefore, Christianity is not only about going to church, it involves more than that including total and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us love studying His word and visiting Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
3. Also we can encounter Jesus through the poor and our charitable works. Imagine if these disciples allowed Jesus to go, they would not have had the opportunity to have an encounter with Him.
It was their willingness to show Jesus hospitality that allowed them to have an encounter with the risen Christ.
Therefore, let us be willing to show hospitality and charity to people. One single charity can do great wonders in our lives.
4. We have to note that the disciples already had a preconceived idea of who Jesus was, what He had come to do, and how He should do it. Then, when things didn’t turn out as they expected they lost faith and became downcast. We have to always know that while we may have our plans to achieve, God always has His plan.
When things don’t turn out the way we expect, it does not mean that God has also left you, no. it does not also mean that He will not answer the prayer, No. he may have answered it already, or He may have decided to answer at an appointed time or He may want you to act or do something.
So, instead of giving up and admitting defeat, let us be wise to see things from a Godly perspective, knowing fully well that He understands our actions perfectly.
Just because these disciples know about Jesus does not mean they knew Him. Just because they have heard about Him does not mean they understood who He was.
Many people today know who Jesus is. Many Christians have heard about Him, read about Him, use His name, and many even claim to know Him. Hence, when problems come, they would not recognize Him again. Their eyes have not been opened. Knowing about Jesus and knowing Him are two different things.
5. There is this joy that always comes from a special encounter with Jesus. Imagine the excitement the Emmaus disciples must have felt after having encountered Jesus. They teach us here that having time with God should be something that is supposed to be giving us joy.
It should not be something that we have to see as a burden. Our hearts should burn within us to spend time with God.
They said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Here, we see the joy, the emotion, the hunger and the satisfaction that came from the encounter.
Therefore, the desire to spend moments with God should stir in the hunger to have a deep encounter with Him. It is something that must come from the heart. It is not something we must be forced to do. We easily do anything but when it comes to the things of God, we see it as a burden, this actually should not be.
Let us develop joy always to come in God’s presence. Let us have one on one fellowship with Him.
May God bless and protect us. Amen.