One of the most well-known Resurrection passages in the Gospels is Luke’s depiction of the disciples on their way to the village of Emmaus, some seven miles from Jerusalem, on the evening of that first Resurrection Day. They are discouraged, confused and aimless as they recount to this unknown companion all the staggering events of the last few days.
Along the way Jesus opens the meaning of the Scriptures for them and then performs a ritual that has become familiar to believers throughout the centuries: he prays a blessing and breaks bread with them. Only then are their eyes opened. Only then do they understand the reality of the Resurrection and the fact that Jesus will always be with us till the end of time.
Luke’s account is meant not to relate the happy ending of a troublesome event. It is meant to give believers of every generation reassurance that we have not been abandoned but continue to experience the presence of Jesus in new and wonderful ways.
There is another depiction of the presence of Jesus that this brings to mind. It is a woodcut by the artist Fritz Eichenburg called Christ of the Breadlines. There among those waiting in a Depression era-like line is the figure of Jesus Christ. The revelation here is that Jesus truly hides in the need of others.
How fortunate we are to recognize Jesus in the words of Sacred Scripture and especially in the sacramental presence of our rituals dating back to the Last Supper. How fortunate also we are as people privileged to be entrusted to work in the social mission of the Gospel to recognize the presence of Christ in all of those who come to our doors for help and encouragement.
Dom Helder Camara, a great Brazilian Archbishop (1909-1999), writes of an instance while he was reflecting on this particular passage of Luke’s Gospel when there was a knock on the door. It was a poor man. He quickly gave him a little cash to get rid of him so that he could go back to his rich meditation. But no sooner had he sat back down when he realized that he had just dismissed the person of Christ hiding in the needs of this poor man in order to get back to his own thoughts.
This Easter may we be blessed with a truly renewed faith in the presence of Christ in our midst. May we be blessed with the eyes of faith to recognize the many and wonderful ways that he makes himself know to us. And may we renew our commitment to serve those in need with reverence and awe as we continue our own journey to Emmaus.