Recognizing Christ — Overcoming Disappointments
“… Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.”
It’s easy to imagine those two disciples, grieving and confused, leaving Jerusalem because of their sorrowful disillusionment over Jesus’ crucifixion. Discussing and debating, they are caught up in their own conversation, no doubt reinforcing their disappointment. Nothing remains of the high hopes they had placed in Jesus. Although their whole conversation centers on Jesus, they don’t recognize him when he walks right up to them.
Instead they stop, as if exasperated and ready to give up. They have had it with hope, promises, and dreams. Discontentment is contagious, and quickly clouds our vision. The two disciples impress on Jesus their disappointment, coming to a halt in their walk as if to emphasize that their dreams have died. Unbidden and uninvited, Jesus takes the initiative and draws near to them. Perhaps he discreetly places himself between the two, respectfully interrupting the cycle of disillusionment.
The text doesn’t reveal when they start walking again. But after listening to the disciples’ sorrow and disappointment, Jesus takes the lead in the conversation, and probably in the walk as well. He’s not about to leave them where they are, at a dead end. Nor does he allow us to give up hope, if we let him take the lead in our lives. “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets,” Jesus explains the Scriptures to them. He recounts for them salvation history, so familiar and yet strangely new, winning their full attention. It somehow seems right to let Jesus take the lead, set the pace, and direct their journey. The disciples follow him to Emmaus, are moved to insist that he remain with them, and receive in exchange the fullness of joy: “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” How often does it happen that we too have the Lord right with us, but we fail to recognize him? As Christians, we walk by faith, not by sight. Let us entrust ourselves to the Lord, even when we do not see him by our side.
Lord, through Baptism you dwell in each Christian, but how often I fail to recognize you! You dwell also in me through my baptism, and yet many times I go through the day unaware of your presence. Help me see more often with the eyes of faith, Lord. Help me see you in the people in my life and help me be aware of your sacred presence within me.
Stay with me, Lord, and let me stay with you.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 12–13). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.