The Emmaus Road – To Emmaus? or Back To Jerusalem?
We are all on a journey! But where are we heading?
I am on a road. I know I am on an Interstate highway. But I need to know more. I need to look at the signs to see whether I am heading east or west, north or south. I need to know where I am going and why.
Figuratively, I am also on the ‘Emmaus Road.’ I need to identify and claim whether I am heading to Emmaus … or back to Jerusalem. Am I a person who is confused, fearful, without a vision for the future? Or am I a person who not only knows where I am going, but am filled with hope for the future.
Whether I recognize it or not, I make a choice, a choice of heading to Emmaus on the outskirts or heading to Jerusalem where I will find the center of my life.
Heading toward Emmaus
We know their story well.
Two followers of Jesus are on the Emmaus Road. They are hardly aware of it. It has been a time filled with disappointment, confusion, and lack of hope. They are hardly thinking of the direction they are heading.
A stranger enters their lives and helps them sort through their feelings. Their hearts now become light with excitement. They beg him to stay with them for a meal. The meal further opens their eyes! He disappears from their eyes! But not before they recognized in the breaking of the bread that it was Jesus who had opened their eyes to make sense of the week’s events. They now know which direction they need to take on Emmaus Road.
They turn around and head back to Jerusalem! They can’t wait to share their excitement with their friends. That meal brought them back. They began to understand… but only as the blind man healed of his blindness in stages. They were only beginning to understand.
Can we see ourselves in that story?
How often do we travel mindlessly along the roads of our lives not knowing whether we are heading north or south, east or west? We are simply on the road.
We don’t take the time to look beyond our immediate concerns. We may be aware of our own disappointments, confusion, or aimlessness. We may be distracted by billboards that catch our attention.
A stranger comes into our lives… a spouse, a friend, a spiritual director, a teacher. The encounter does not register at first. But as we walk on the road together something clicks. Sometimes it does not click right away. Only in retrospect do we make connections. Our lives make sense and we know whether to head north or south, east or west.
These are our Emmaus experiences. Of course, there are times when we find ourselves on the road to Damascus confident we are moving in the right direction. Then we get struck down and need to be guided as Saul was in his journey of persecution.
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles
We look at the Acts of the Apostles, especially in the days after celebrating Easter, and we can watch the early “followers of the way,” as they were called before they knew themselves as Christians. We see how they began to slowly realize what Jesus meant with the dramatic gesture at supper that summed up his life and message.
After the meal was over he stood up and washed their feet knowing how imperfect and cowardly they would act in the next few hours. “Do you understand what I have done? If I, you Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you will wash one another’s feet with loving care.” They thought they understood at first. But the Acts of the apostles show them “growing in wisdom, age, and grace.” They were heading in the right direction filled with hope and confidence that God would be with them in their struggles to understand. They were constantly ‘reading the signs of the times,’ growing in their understanding.
Food for thought…
- Am I on the road to Emmaus or Jerusalem?
- Who are the people who walk with me and open my eyes to the implications of what Jesus taught and did?
- Do I run to tell others the Good News?