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Father Muench Says...

Walking with Jesus to Emmaus

April 15, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Lent led us to Holy Week. Holy Week was a celebration of our salvation. We celebrated the Last Supper of the Lord. We stood at the cross of Jesus on Calvary. As people of faith, we believe that Calvary led us to Easter glory, the Resurrection of the Savior, new life.

The Resurrection of Jesus is a perfect representation of what we hope for in this pandemic. It will certainly be a resurrection when we are able to celebrate the end of this terrible time.

All the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles contain Resurrection stories. My personal favorite is the Emmaus story, Luke 24. I am certain you remember this story. Two people are walking home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We are told it is three days after the crucifixion of Jesus – the day of the Resurrection. I like to think that these two were a couple – a husband and his wife. I once saw a painting of the Emmaus story that showed a man and a woman with Jesus at table. That painting was over the side altar in St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, Ireland.

Let’s review the story again. As the two were walking home, Jesus came along and caught up with them. They do not recognize him; they do not know it is Jesus. They explain to him why they were sad. They were disciples of Jesus and hoped that he was a mighty prophet, but the chief priests and rulers had arrested and crucified him. They had hoped that would redeem Israel. Then Jesus (they still do not recognize that it is Jesus) teaches them. He points out to them that the Messiah would suffer and then enter his glory. Then He begins with Moses and the prophets and teaches them all that the Scriptures write about the Savior. Can you begin to imagine what a Scripture lesson that must have been being led by Jesus himself?

When they came to the village of Emmaus, the couple invites Jesus (whom they still do not realize it is Jesus) to stay there. Then we are told, when they joined at table, Jesus takes bread, says the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. In that moment, their eyes were opened, and they realized that this person was Jesus himself, the same Jesus they had seen crucified. We are told that Jesus then vanished. Then we are told that they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

I believe that every one of us has experienced such Emmaus moments. Each time we read some Scripture and allow it to become our prayer, the presence of Jesus is truly part of our lives. And when we recognize the sacredness of the Scripture and the reality of Christ’s presence, truly our hearts will burn within us.

I believe also that many times the Lord comes along to walk with us. When our hearts are alive with faith and the love of the Holy Spirit, we will realize that Jesus has come and been part of our day and has carefully led us in love. Often, he leads us to do something special, I believe even miraculous. Sometimes, we may not recognize this until much later. I’ve had the experience myself of looking back over the day and realizing I did something good and meaningful and recognizing that it was truly the Lord who guided me at that moment. Such a moment of recognition is a time of deep gratitude that Jesus truly walked with me and showed me the way.

During this pandemic, during this time of social distancing, I often notice a couple out for a walk, and I can truly image Jesus joining them.

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