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Our Own Emmaus Journey
Sooner or Later Jesus Catches Up With Us
In the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke we find a peculiar story. It tells the tale of two bewildered disciples who are leaving Jerusalem after the death of Jesus and making their way towards the small town of Emmaus some twelve kilometres away.
During their travels the disciples talk about their disappointment regarding the final hours of Jesus’ life—they were hoping he was truly the Messiah of God’s coming earthly kingdom. As they walk, deep in conversation, Luke tells us that ‘Jesus came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him’ (v.15-16).
Seamlessly, Jesus enters into their conversation revealing spiritual truths that encourage their hearts and buoy their trust in God. Later the two individuals declare to their friends, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’
What does this narrative say to us as we make our way into the new year of 2023?
First, we will all share a journey around the sun (a distance of 584 million miles). Second, this lengthy trip will consist of a melange of happy and sad events which will criss-cross our lives during the voyage.
Third, indubitably we will have epiphanous moments (‘aha’ times) when the eternal will break into our mundane minutes and life changing possibilities will bubble up from the depths. (And then they will fade into the mist and we will wonder if they were there at all!) Fourth, in these serendipitous awakenings, Jesus will show up and whisper in our ears of his love, friendship, and companionship for the journey.
Sometimes we will miss these moments. We won’t be awake enough to catch them. But there will be times when we hear and feel everything. Times when we won’t be able to breathe and our hearts will burn with a love ‘as strong as death and a passion fierce as the grave.’ We must hold on to these moments. For these are the generative moments when Jesus breathes his life-changing Spirit into our spirits.
The Irish priest Father Farrell knows about such a recasting and speaks of it in his own winsome way:
Everyone is on the Emmaus Journey. Sooner or later Jesus catches up with us as we go our way. Something usually prevents us from recognizing him, but wherever we are and wherever we go, He is with us even though we cannot name why our hearts are smouldering within.” (Edward Farrell, Beams of Prayer)
Let us travel then this year awake, attentive, and alert to the fresh winds that Jesus whispers in our hearts. Let our spirits burn within from the Divine’s flashes of love that are never quenched.
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