Some trips we will never forget. A trip to Disney World, a summer cruse, the glamor of Las Vegas. What makes them memorable is not so much what we did as the time we spent with the people we love.
The journey is important—walking with someone—sharing ourselves with others—that’s the essence of what makes a trip good or not so good. The two disciples on the journey to Emmaus had no idea what was going to happen. They didn’t have a GPS. In the walking together—notice—in the walking together because so many of us walk alone, even when we are surrounded with people, we’ve got our face glued to a cell phone or we are distracted by some other device. We have created a illusionary bubble around us—perhaps out of paranoia. “Don’t invade my space.” We have distanced ourselves because we don’t want to share; we do not want to become vulnerable; we like to keep some parts secret. Look at the two guys on the road. They knew Jesus but could not recognize him. The reason was because they were so full of themselves. Their grief was overwhelming. All that Jesus asked was “What were you talking about?” Then He couldn’t shut them up. They poured out their guts to Him. All the pain, the sorrow, the unmet expectations came out like pus from a sore. They needed someone to listen. Just speaking about their frustration was a source of healing for them.
Walking and talking is different from sitting and talking. Something happens in our brain, or the rhythm of our bodies, or the beauty of nature. The sharing of an Emmaus walk lends itself to the discovery of Jesus with someone. Retreat programs are named after Emmaus. Interesting what happens when folks are sent out, given some time parameter and told go for a walk, but speak about your common love for the Lord. Listen for His voice, especially in what your partner has to say. Speak about your pain, your hopes for the future, your concerns. See what the Lord has to tell you and then come back and share with the group.
Never have two walkers returned empty handed. Jesus becomes present in the ordinariness of life—like a simple walk. We are all going at such a rapid pace—taken and retuned by autos, busses, jet planes that we forget the pleasure of walking, especially together. The two men felt obligated to ask the stranger to stay, since the evening was coming upon them. Of all places—the dinner table was where their eyes were opened—In the breaking of bread. Not like jamming food down our throat on a 20 minute lunch break—not like sitting in front of the TV while gobbling on a frozen pizza—for sure—not like eating and not talking because we are angry. A meal together is the extension of the Eucharistic Table. That’s why we pray before and after we eat; that’s why we engage in conversation; that’s why Jesus reveals Himself, so that we can recognize Him in the people around us. Good things can happen when we pay attention to each other. Lots of healing can take place just by listening. Negativity is all around—problems are easy to identify—countless flaws in the world. Our vocation is to bring out the positive gifts in one another—to challenge each other to grow in our faith. When we remind each other about how much we are loved by God, blessings will come.
At times the road to Emmaus can seem long, but we are never alone. Jesus always walks with us but especially at Holy Mass, where He becomes truly present in the breaking of bread.