The Emmaus incident described in today’s Gospel is like many people have experienced. Have you ever failed to recognize someone you meet when the location and situation is different than usual for you? ___ Some time back when I was vacationing in Niagara Falls on a crowded sidewalk I came face to face with a man with whom I worked every day and I didn’t initially recognize him. I had to search my mind a bit before I knew who he was. It took a few steps and a few words for me to realize who he was. As we heard in today’s gospel it took quite a few miles walking and talking with one another for the disciples to recognize Jesus. It took until Jesus blessed and broke the bread for the light to go on. If you would come face to face with someone miles from home who you understood was dead, would you know who they were? Jesus helped the couple as they walked to Emmaus by opening up the scriptures for them and clarifying how he fit what had been prophesied concerning the Messiah. Wouldn’t you have been spellbound? It took a quite a few facts and the breaking of the bread to open the couple’s eyes and changed their lives forever. Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to the couple after going back to Jerusalem and telling the disciples what had happen to them, but you know their lives were different than before because they had listened to the words of Jesus just as ours is when we listen to Jesus’ message.
You and I have the same opportunity as that couple to listen to Jesus’ words as well in addition to receiving other messages both contained in Scripture and the messages from Jesus we receive through other people, young and old, experienced and inexperienced as well as from situations which we experience and dreams we have had.
“One example of messages from Jesus received through other people is exemplified in the story of a British soldier in the first World War I who lost heart for the battle and deserted. In trying to reach the coast for a boat to England that night, he ended up wandering in the pitch-black night when he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he climbed the post to read the sign and as he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized and rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Then he remembered that Jesus was the one who shown him how to live, love and die, he was the one who had endured so much and the one who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches. Maybe that’s what you and I need to do in moments of distress and darkness, strike a match in the darkness and look on the face of Jesus. For Jesus is here. He comes to us just as he came to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, even though we may not recognize him. He takes the initiative. He knocks on our door.”
“Another example of Jesus providing a needed message is contained in the story I found of a teacher who was talking to her students about the Eucharist. She asked them what they thought was the most important part of the Mass. Without batting an eye, one of her theologically advanced students replied, he thought the most important part of the Mass, was when the priest said “Go the Mass is ended!” Initially the teacher thought the student was joking, but he was absolutely serious and he said he meant what he said. So the teacher asked him to explain, and he did just that by telling her that “The whole purpose of the Mass is to nourish us spiritually, first with God’s Word in the Liturgy of the Word, and second, with God’s life in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, culminating in Holy Communion. And God nourishes us so that we can go forth and bear witness to Him in our by our lives, our words and actions.” Needless to say the teacher was impressed and urged the student to continue. And so he added, “The Eucharist does not end with the Dismissal Rite. On the contrary, it begins there. Like the two disciples at Emmaus, we must to forth and tell others what Jesus means to us.”
The quotes are from Fr. Tony’s “Scripture Homilies” Cycle A (No. 24): firstname.lastname@example.org