On the Road to Emmaus
"As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, 'Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.' So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'"
Scripture teaches us that, after the resurrection event, two of Jesus’ followers went to the city of Emmaus. The text does not give us much information on these two other than they were engrossed in conversation. Not realizing who it was that suddenly joined them, they quickly brought this stranger up to speed on what had transpired. Unbeknownst to these disciples, they were in the presence of Jesus himself. Accepting their invitation, Jesus joined them in the village and shared a meal with them. It was in that intimate moment of breaking the bread and distribution that their eyes were opened and He became known to them.
Two things stand out to me in this passage. First, the breaking of bread. If there is anything we can relate to when it comes to spiritual imagery, it is this vision of Jesus breaking bread with His companions. In this season of isolation, there is nothing I long for more than partaking in the bread and wine with our St. Martin’s community. The moment of consecration and fraction is a time that reminds us of what Christ did for each of us. The elements themselves represent the presence of God in our midst. In this sacred moment, we are all one in faith, as we stand forgiven before our God receiving His grace. It is profound and it is what unites us one to another. In this moment of Scripture, Jesus humbly becomes one with His disciples through the elements of bread and wine.
Second, it points out the importance of Scripture. On their walk, Jesus refers to God’s Word as the place from which the promise of the Messiah came. These men knew what Jesus was talking about. Scripture was familiar to them. It took Jesus walking with them and opening Scripture for their hearts to burn. What this says to me is that even though we are denied the Eucharist during this time, the one thing we are not denied is God’s Word. Scripture gives us an opportunity, on one level, to remain connected with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s word is our sustenance or “manna” right now. Through the reading of or listening to Scripture, we will grow closer to God through Jesus. At this point, we realize we are not alone and He is with us. Just as he walked with these disciples on the Road to Emmaus, so too He walks and talks with us today. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we remain connected to the risen Christ.
Though these days are challenging, the greatest hope I have comes through the written word and prayer. A daily routine of both keeps me connected and makes me feel less alone. It is also an opportunity to be prepared for the moment when the rules of isolation are no more and we can once again gather around His table to receive Him through the bread and wine. In the mean time, we can feast daily on His Word knowing He will not only meet us, but He will open our eyes to His presence. Amen.
The Rev. Martin J. Bastian