Walking with someone is a great way to communicate. The disciples were grieving. All of their hopes for a better life had been wiped away. Jesus was their hero, the healer, the One who was going to redeem Israel. With the death of Jesus all their dreams had been wiped away. So much happened in a short spam of time. They were left with unanswered questions—undealt emotions that caused them to lash out at the stranger who joined them on the walk. When we are hurting, we usually lash out at the closest person, most likely a member of our family. During this time of uncertainty, because so many of us have had to stay home, perhaps left without a paycheck, not knowing when life will return to normal—we too are left with undealt emotions. A sense of loss is present, some fear of getting sick, anger of not being able to live our routine. Death has visited some families because of the virus or other causes, and they cannot bring their loved ones to Church. A graveside service is all we can offer. Meanwhile, some folks who were infected with the virus have recovered. Babies have been born. First responders, doctors, nurses, continue to minister to the sick. The majority of people have complied with the restrictions. Curfews, masks and staying home is working. All has happened at a cost. Every day that passes hurts families, government, the world. Yet, what price can we put on one human life? Who can we say is expendable? Indeed, there are countless emotions that sneak up on us when we least expect. Perhaps the reality that we are not in control has never been more prevalent. Death, grief, a sense of loss can leave us feeling helpless.
Without a doubt, the disciples on the road to Emmaus felt helpless. They didn’t know how they were going to cope. They needed to piece their life back together and didn’t have a clue of where to start. Notice that the first thing that Jesus did for them was to let them talk. He showed interest in hearing their pain by listening to them. So many of us have forgotten how to listen to each other. We cannot listen if we are paying attention to the cellphone or another device. The distractions often get in the way of relationships. Our challenge is to listen beyond the words we hear. What is the person really saying? Do we dare to listen to the pain? Jesus listened to the disciples and explained that pain leads to freedom. His pain was the cost of our salvation.
By the time that the disciples and Jesus reached the village it was evening. Jesus gave the impression that he was going farther. Hospitality was instilled in the culture, although the disciples probably wanted to be alone. They felt obligated to invite Jesus to stay with them. Best thing they ever did. In the breaking of bread their eyes were opened, and they recognized the Lord. The same is true in our life. We always come back to the center of our Faith—the Eucharist. When was the last time that we were able to receive Holy Communion? Would we have celebrated differently knowing that that was going to be the last time before the doors were closed? The Eucharist is central to who we are as Catholics. At the moment we cannot offer the Blessed Sacrament, only suggest “Spiritual Communion”. Yet, the desire is the same. Like the disciples we want to invite Jesus to stay with us. He’s already knocking. All we have to do is open the door. Perhaps now our appreciation of Holy Mass will deepen. Just like the disciples, we will never be the same. Because we have walked the journey; have grieved, we have felt the pain of loss. But in the breaking of the bread everything makes sense. Jesus continues to share Himself completely with us. In spite of our slowness, our unworthiness, our sins—the Lord does not give up on us.
The journey continues. We are never alone. Jesus walks with us every step of the way.