The Encounter at Emmaus
I have been struck by the stories this Resurrection Season because for the first time, they strike me not as eye witness accounts of the Risen Christ, but as the challenge of faith for the disciples and us. The disciples on the way to Emmaus are leaving Jerusalem – returning home, perhaps, – grief stricken, but more importantly, disillusioned. The teacher has failed. The forces of evil have destroyed a very good and wonderful young man.
One way to see this story is to take it as another proof of the Risen Christ as encountered by his disciples. The story does convey this message. However, the story also tells us that we find the Risen Christ when He opens our minds to see the scriptures and when our hearts are opened at the Breaking of the Bread. Look for Him in the scriptures and invite Him in to dinner and your hospitality will be more than repaid.
There is just a glimpse – a flash of recognition and he disappears from our midst. The presence of the Risen Christ is a momentary and ongoing discovery. It is the result of searching, wandering, questing in grief and disillusionment and being open to the challenge of the Stranger.
All of us have moments, years, decades, in which everything we knew and had hoped for is swept away. The disciples had no clue of what was to become of their beloved teacher, but his torture and death threw them into utter grief and confusion. Yet their confusion only increased when they heard that other disciples had found the empty tomb and seen the angels. They were re-grouping, leaving town, trying to get some distance. A Stranger notices their grief and inquires. They listen and reflect on the scriptures and Break Bread.
This is the Christian life – the quest and the encounter in the village of Emmaus – continuing through all generations.