The Inviting Road to Emmaus

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan + J.M.J.

After His Resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to His disciples at various times and in various ways. One of the most poignant manifestations of His risen glory is the revelation to the two disciples making their way to Emmaus.

Christ approached these travelers and began to walk with them. Mysteriously restrained from recognizing Jesus, the two were incredulous that this “stranger” was unaware of the newsworthy events of the past several days. Then, Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures.” (Saint Luke 24:27)

Amazed by the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus, the disciples uttered a cry of the heart that still reverberates in the souls of believers everywhere: “Stay with us.” Three short words sum up the servants’ appeal to their Master.

Easter Sunday comes and goes. The greatest event in human history is often relegated to a happy memory. The Resurrection may sometimes be considered, albeit unintentionally, as a joyful occasion without much practicality. After all, paying the bills or caring for a loved one who is terminally ill is typical of the overwhelming concerns facing even devout Christians.

All the more reason to imitate the stirring entreaty of the Emmaus-bound disciples: “Stay with us.”

Only Christ—the Christ of the cross and the empty tomb—can make sense of the trials that confront a person. “Stay with us” gives God “permission” to remain in our lives through the invisible but nevertheless real principle of grace.

A common concern expressed among those who arrange retreats and spiritual endeavors for youth is the need for “follow-up.” A high school boy or girl attends a weekend retreat and experiences an emotional spiritual renewal. Then this newfound vigor is crushed at the first sign of temptation or turmoil. How may one enjoy a profound relationship with Our Lord in the midst of a hostile and uninterested world?

Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in his remarkable classic Divine Intimacy, wrote that the soul that enjoys the state of grace need not worry whether God is present to help with difficulties. “Hidden in the obscurity of faith, God draws near our soul, makes Himself our traveling companion, and still more, lives in us by grace.” True, one may feel, because he does not understand the workings of the Lord, that God has abandoned him. But, “God is there, God remains with us; it is for us to remain with Him.”

When Christ vanished before the eyes of the two disciples after the Breaking of the Bread, Cleophas and his unnamed companion could have melted into lethargy. Their Master had left; they were seemingly by themselves. But instead of becoming passive, they quickly journeyed to tell the Eleven what had transpired. Although Jesus had temporarily departed, His presence remained.

The Resurrection, a far cry from a one-day event, is a life-changer. The happiness to be found in the Risen Lord remains with us because of His abiding presence. Despite life’s difficulties and pain, the joy of the Resurrection is always there for one who believes. Saint Augustine, who knew his share of hardships, remarked: “We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, has conquered sin and death. When we pray, “Stay with us,” we have the assurance that He has heard us. For just as the stone was rolled away from His tomb, so will our own burdens become manageable.