Today the Word of God tells us that on the day Jesus rose from the dead, two discouraged followers were walking to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. Along the road, they talked to each other about the death of Jesus. As they discussed what happened, Jesus caught up and walked with them - but the passage tells us that the two didn't recognize him. I have no doubt that given all we have been through in these last two months, walking on our road of life has been very difficult. We have seen panic, anxiety and stress. We have seen homeless, jobless, and hopeless. We have seen sickness, sadness and even death. But in all this, have we seen the Lord? Some may ask, but how do we recognize the Lord - especially in the midst of all this bad stuff going on all around us? Historically, God showed himself in stages. First, he showed goodness through creation. Then, he showed his patience in his covenant with Noah after the flood. Then he chose a people of his own through Abraham and his descendants. Then he showed his people his will through the Law that he gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. And then he drew his people back to himself in the voices and challenges of the prophets. But, in the end, God wanted to show everyone himself. He did that in Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God born into the world. When we see Jesus, who he was and what he did, we see God. In Jesus, we see God alive and working.
I'm betting that just like those ancient disciples who were walking on the road with the Lord and did not recognize him, so too recently on our road, the Lord has been walking with us and we have not recognized him either. If we look just a bit more closely, perhaps we might have seen him in the FaceTime with a friend, or the calming message from a relative, or email that reminded us that we are not alone. Perhaps we have seen him in the care and safety offered in shelters, or the outreach for a new job opportunity, or the simple prayers of our children.
Perhaps we have seen him in the heroic work of nurses and doctors and all healthcare workers, or the smile of the grocery store clerk or the postal worker, or the comforting words of the priest livestream or at the moment of death.
Even in these days, we are reminded that God made us to seek him for our happiness and peace. When we see Jesus, we find God. And we can see Jesus in the words and actions of his followers today - those countless men and women who are here with us, offering us hope and consolation at every step of our road.
On that road to Emmaus, they all walked together. And Jesus told them what the Bible said about him dying and rising from the dead. At the urging of the men, Jesus stayed and went inside with them. When they sat down to dinner, Jesus took some bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the two men. Now, they could recognize Jesus! Perhaps today, despite some who may believe that the Lord has gone on without us, let's invite him, into our home, into our prayer, into the lessons with our children, into our work, into the deepest parts of our lives ... for then and only then will our hearts be burning with his love and his joy, and then, nothing else will matter. Peace! RSM