On this Third Sunday of Easter, the Gospel keeps us on that first Easter Sunday, this time placing us on the road to Emmaus. We are not sure where the exact location of Emmaus was as there were multiple towns named Emmaus that are mentioned in the Scriptures. From St. Luke’s Gospel, we know that the town was outside of Jerusalem about seven miles, not too far since these two disciples were able to make it there in one day’s journey.
I am sure that most of us are familiar with story. Two disciples are walking to Emmaus. It is Sunday, two days after the Crucifixion. These disciples are heartbroken following Good Friday. Their world is further turned upside down because they have heard that Jesus has been raised from the dead. All of this they tell to the stranger who draws near to them on their journey and walks with them. The one who walks with them is no stranger, it is the Lord, but these two disciples are not able to recognize him.
There was an old interpretation of this story that said that the disciples were walking into the sunset, which obscured their sight. The Gospel tells us that it is the end of the day because the disciples invite this stranger to stay with them. While the setting sun may have obscured their sight, it was not what was preventing them from recognizing Jesus who was present to them. The disciples were grieving and rightly so, but their grief as well as possibly their own beliefs of who Jesus should have been or what He should have done was preventing them from seeing Jesus who was right in front of them. As these disciples pour their hearts out to Jesus, He in turn helps them to make sense of all that has happened, putting them back on the road to right spiritual vision which will be fully restored for them later that evening in the breaking of the bread.
The same can be true with us, maybe even right now as we push these days of uncertainty, frustration, fear and, yes, even grief. Life has a way of overwhelming us at times, not allowing us to see things or people clearly for what/who they are and this can happen in our relationship with the Lord. Just like with these disciples, Jesus is near to each and every one of us, whether we recognize Him or not. If we allow Him, our Lord will help us to approach the ups and downs of life with faith and hope. Making sense out of life doesn’t always mean that we will understand the things that happen, but, as disciples, we will be able to place our frustrations, our brokenness, our grief, our fears, and our “whys” into the Lord’s hands, trusting in His goodness.
May the grace of the risen Lord sustain us in these days until we are able to gather together again for the Breaking of the Bread, that is His true presence, when He will remind us in a very real way of the depth of His love for us. No matter what is happening in our lives or the world, if we are walking with Jesus, we are always walking into the sunrise.
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.