The Road To Emmaus
The heat of the afternoon sun rises as the two disciples walk together. For a while the only sound is the crunch of the dirt and gravel underfoot. Eventually a conversation begins. It warms to a discussion and even a debate, so they do not notice the Stranger drawing near. Nonetheless, He overtakes them. They interrupt their dialogue to greet this new companion.
“What are you discussing as you walk along?” He asks.
This brings them to a sudden halt. They stop and look at Him, disappointment and discouragement written clearly on their faces.
Yes, we are on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35), but let us now bring the dialogue into our current time…
“What are you discussing as you walk along?” Jesus asks.
“Well,” says Cleopas with a sigh, “what everyone is talking about.”
“Are you the only one in the world who doesn’t know about the coronavirus? How it has spread everywhere and caused so much suffering?”
“What kinds of suffering?”
“Well, all that goes with sickness…”
“Go on. Tell Me everything.”
“Okay. Also loneliness, restlessness, fear, worry, financial problems…so much! And on top of this, we can’t even go to Mass or pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.” Cleopas pauses for a moment and then adds, “But we had hoped it would all be over by now. We had hoped that none of this would affect our families and loved ones. We had hoped that God would intervene. And we even hear some people talking about God’s grace in their lives, but, well, we just can’t see it. We can’t see Him. We can’t see what He is doing.”
Is there a twinkle in Jesus’ eye as He listens to this last complaint and prepares to respond?
“Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe! Who is God but Emmanuel, the God Who became man to be close to you? Close to you in all things, ready to walk with you in joy and in suffering. Because I know what suffering is. I came into this world to suffer and die for you so that you can have a share in the glory of My life, in the fruits of the Resurrection.”
After speaking with the disciples, Jesus acts as if He will keep going. Perhaps He would, but the disciples press Him: “Stay with us!”
One thing I love about this Gospel passage is the frank conversation. Cleopas and his companion hold nothing back from the mysterious Stranger Whose presence somehow consoles them. When I was younger—perhaps it was in the early days in the convent—I remember being taught about the importance of honest prayer, the need to make time for heart-to-heart conversation with the Lord. If honesty is essential for any relationship, it is all the more so for one’s relationship with God. There are times for formal prayer, but there also must be time in the day to hear Jesus say, “Tell Me everything.” And then to tell him everything. He is the best listener. Then, let Him have time to speak. After all, He is the Word. This is why the disciples’ hearts burned as they listened to Him. Even in the silence and stillness He speaks.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus discovered that it was no stranger who drew close to them, but rather their Beloved Lord and Friend. He listened and encouraged and lifted their hearts. Let us let Him do the same for us. Let our own hearts be open to see Jesus draw near and to hear Him say, “Tell Me everything.” Yes, He wants to stay with us, to listen, and to speak in the stillness of prayer.
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR