Our Gospel this weekend is Luke’s long story, filled with details, of the encounter of two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
Let’s imagine that the journey between Jerusalem and Emmaus, a journey of about 7 miles, is an analogy of our lives. The disciples knew where they were going in a physical sense, but not in the sense of the meaning of life. We are told they were downcast. They “had been hoping Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel.” Even though they were told of appearances of the risen Lord, they did not believe and were walking away from the whole situation. Returning to a former way of life, maybe?
Look what happens: Jesus approaches them and begins walking with them. Most importantly, the two disciples pay attention to Jesus and they begin to interact with Him. Ultimately, they take the initiative to invite Him to stay with them and that is when He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them: they come “to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.” If they had not invited Him to stay, that would not have happened. My friends, Jesus is always walking with us. Do we recognize Him? Do we interact with Him on a regular basis? Do we give Him the opportunity to break the bread for us and help us as we walk through life?
All of this is a two-way street: Jesus is present to us but we have to acknowledge His presence and let Him in. That is why it is so important each day to take some quiet time to be with the Lord. We need to share what is happening in our lives and we need to listen in quiet so that He can speak to us.
The other part of this is “the breaking of the Bread.” The “Bread” is the Body of Christ and, when we come to Mass, we receive the Body of Christ both in the community (which is the Body of Christ) and in the sacramental Body of Christ, two great gifts which help us on our journey of life.
My prayer is that this extended period of not being able to partake of the Body of Christ, be it the community assembled or the Eucharist, will help us value these gifts more than ever. Then, once the opportunity is again available to us, we will make weekly participation with the community in the Eucharist a high priority.
Maybe that will be the blessing behind all of this: absence makes the heart grow fonder! May God continue to bless each of you. Be safe and let us remember to pray for one another.