On the evening of the Resurrection, a time which must have been a mixture of despair and hope for the followers of Jesus because of rumors of Jesus's Resurrection, two of His disciples who had only heard the seemingly wild stories of their Master's rising, were walking along on their way to the village of Emmaus. As they walked, they were speaking of the terrible events of the last few days. They were in despair over the death of who they thought must be the Messiah. But how can the Messiah die, be killed through brutal crucifixion? It didn't seem possible.
Were they duped by the One whom they left everything behind for to follow? Was He some master magician who could somehow put everyone under a spell that would make them believe who He said He was? But, didn't it seem that when you were around Him, there could be no doubt in your mind about Who He really was? Why, then, did they feel the way they felt now, betrayed, hopeless, saddened beyond words?
They continued on, mainly in silence, each to his own thoughts. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, there appeared a stranger on the road slightly behind them. They kept walking making sure to pay attention to this walker for fear that he might be a robber or worse. Soon, the stranger caught up with the wary couple.
He asked them what they had been talking about. So the two disciples began recounting the story of the crucifixion and death of their spiritual leader. They told the mystery walker everything about this man who the Jews had found guilty of blasphemy and had the Romans put to death on the cross. Their sadness was palatable, especially when they explained to their guest that just today, rumors had spread that this man rose from the dead. But how could that happen? Most likely, the duo said, the body was stolen by someone for some unknown purpose.
The trio walked in silence for a moment or two until they came to a fork in the road. This stranger who had not uttered a single word but who had remained strangely at their side, started to turn on the fork opposite the one the disciples intended to take. Even though he had said nothing, the disciples sensed something in this man that they liked. They asked him to continue on with him to Emmaus where they could rest and get something to eat for the night was falling and the evening air had a chill to it. Their new friend accepted their kind invitation and they walked on together toward the village just up ahead.
It was at this point the stranger broke His silence. He began explaining the events that happened in the days before in light of Sacred Scripture. As He spoke, both disciples began to feel their spirits lift. It seemed with each step they took they gained more energy, more hope and a better understanding of what they had been witness to. Still, they had no idea of who this man might be. But, somehow, this mattered little. His words had brought them great comfort, a comfort that, up until now, they had been unable to find even in the presence of Jesus' chosen Apostles.
Upon arriving in Emmaus, the disciples entered one of their homes. The three were hungry so they made something to eat. As they sat talking, the stranger did something unusual. He took a loaf of bread that they had at the table, He blessed it, broke it, and gave each of the disciples a piece to eat. It was in that moment that they realized who this charismatic stranger truly was. It was Jesus Himself! In that moment of discovery, Jesus vanished into thin air right before their eyes.
Immediately, they got up from the table and hurried out the door. Destination: Jerusalem to tell all the other followers of Jesus that they had indeed seen Him and had even shared a meal with him. As they walked back to the Holy City, they remarked to each other how the stranger's words make them come alive, how they burned with excitement inside.
What a privilege it must have been to walk with the Lord that first night of the Resurrection. Here was the Saviour of the World, hidden from their eyes in plain sight, teaching them about how Scripture had foreseen the events they had witnessed and how those events would change their lives, indeed change the world.
How many times have you wished that you could walk with the Lord some evening? What would it be like to simply walk and talk about the things that effect your daily life and how you react to them? What would it be like to listen to someone who appeared as a total stranger teach you how these things in your life all related to the Risen One? What would you give to walk with the Lord, to drink Him in and hold Him in your heart?
We have that very opportunity on a daily basis. We have Sacred Scripture at our fingertips with the Word of God ready to be absorbed morning, noon, or night. We have those who are in need, those who are hurting, marginalized or suffering waiting for the hand of God to reach out to them to extend a little hope to them. We have each other to turn to for love and support in our moments of sorrow, pain, and hopelessness. We have the love of God that comes through the Sacred Liturgy and strengthens us with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity so that we may completely unified with Him.
Jesus waits for us, wants us to come to Him. Just as the two disciples of Emmaus came to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we must come to recognize Him in one another so that we can begin to drop the barriers that prevent us from becoming a truly unified mystical Body of Christ. We can walk with Jesus at any time of the day or night, but we must first overcome our fears and our weaknesses and trust in Him who climbed upon the Cross to die for us that we might have life. If we do this then we, too, can invite Jesus to "stay with us!" And He will!!