As part of a school project my son interviewed us about our favorite Bible stories, and I chose “The Road to Emmaus.”
I love how Jesus was made known to the disciples both physically and sacramentally in the breaking fo the bread. Reading it again today though, I find so much more to reflect on in this small story.
I place myself at the scene, walking with the two disciples, down a dusty, deserted road. I imagine the discouragement they must be feeling. Then along comes a stranger to walk with us (it is Jesus, but like the disciples, I do not recognize him). They recount with disappointment how Jesus was arrested and crucified. They don’t refer to him as Lord, but simply as the Nazorean—a prophet who was mighty, but who unfortunately, had been put to death, despite their hopes he would be the Redeemer. I picture myself saying incredulously, “are you the only one who hasn’t heard this?”
Then Jesus so patiently opens up the Scriptures to them—the prophecies and history they know well, but whose ultimate meaning had been lost on them. “Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe…Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Their hearts began to burn within them and they begged him to stay with him.
Little by little Jesus prepared them to accept the reality of His resurrection. Initially, they could not connect an empty tomb with a resurrection. Only after Jesus knew they were ready to accept the fullness, did he reveal himself in the breaking of the bread. It is at this point that their plans were upended and they turned around to head back to Jerusalem, because God had different plans.
This story reminds me of my journey to the Catholic Church.
Originally skeptical of many things (saints, the role of the Blessed Mother, sacraments, etc), my eyes were closed to the truth. Little by little God opened my heart.
First I was drawn to the beauty of the liturgy. Then the church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality were presented in a way that I could understand and opened my heart to the wisdom of the Church. And then, after a few months attending the mass, I came to recognize Jesus in the Host and my heart, like the disciples, began to burn with zeal. I started out on a road leading away from Rome, but after a gradual encounter with Truth and an awakening to the Real Presence in the Eucharist, my journey shifted 180 degrees, leading home to the Church.