They weren’t looking for Jesus. They were sure he was lost forever. And then he was with them… walking and talking, explaining scripture, opening doors to spirituality. He moved with them so easily, so unobtrusively that they did not recognize the risen Savior until he revealed himself in the breaking of the bread.
God love you!
Could this week’s gospel be any clearer? The risen Christ is with us always… all through the day, in everyone we meet. But too often, he goes unrecognized. He is only a Sunday presence at best… here for the breaking of the bread and then ignored in our self-absorption. That’s not God’s plan.
We are meant to live in the risen Christ… continually, not occasionally… actively, not abstractly. We are meant to see the world through “Easter Eyes”… eyes that see the risen Christ in all around us, making him present in all we do.
Look around you. We are surrounded by I-phones, I-pads, I-pods - and glowing computer screens filled with Zoom calls! Most indicate their active status by a glowing red light. It tells us that the device is on. It is active. It is ready to receive. Sometimes I wish our souls came with a little light that tells us when our “Easter Eyes” are on… when we are open to the reality of the Resurrection… when we are ready to see Christ and follow him through the day.
Jesus is in our midst constantly. He promises us: Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. He’s here, but without “Easter Eyes” we don’t see him. Our red light is off. We’re not even looking… awash in the ordinary, we are blind to the extraordinary… all those seemingly commonplace opportunities that God gives us to witness his love.
Seeing through “Easter Eyes” takes practice. Like any gift from God, we must use it or lose it. That takes a daily, conscious effort to connect with Christ and to stay connected with him through the day.
The formula for this vision is simple. It’s called prayer. Part of it is spoken. But most of it is lived. Welcome-in your day with Jesus. Give him your hopes and expectations, your concerns, and anxieties. Share your joy with him. Ask him to help work out your resentments and forgive your lapses. Unlike even the most advanced electronic devices, the more you are turned on to Jesus, the more you are spiritually recharged… the sharper your vision, the brighter your light.
But it is not enough to be alert to Christ in our midst. It’s not enough to recognize him. It is not even enough to always look for Christ in others. We must show the world that the risen Christ is alive in us. We are his heart and hands in the world.
Significantly, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For two-thousand years the Eucharist has been our portal to communion with the risen Christ. In the Eucharist, we consume in microcosm the entire mystery of redemption… the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. In it, we are joined not in a metaphorical Body of Christ, but in a palpable presence. Jesus is with us. Jesus is in us.
This gospel is about a mystery, not about a ghost story. It is the essential mystery of our faith… the paschal mystery that: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This mystery was on full display on the road to Emmaus. The disciples did not see and talk with a ghost. They saw the living, risen Christ… both body and soul. They were not looking for him. They did not recognize him. But through the revelation of scripture and the breaking of the bread… he made himself present to them… as he makes himself present to us each and every day.
What are we doing to be present to him today, to see him, to recognize him… to welcome him? For many of us, these are the questions that define our daily lives. They are built reflexively into our day. For others, they are unfamiliar, awkward, uncomfortable. Sadly, for them, the risen Christ passes through their midst… unseen, untouched… and his promise of eternal life slips silently away… unrecognized, unfulfilled.
But for all of us… both the faithful and the self-absorbed… the humble and the proud… there is one constant: Jesus is in our midst this morning… the divine spark burns in all around us. True to his promises, we need only look for him with “Easter Eyes” … through the pain and peril of pandemic… to the promise of eternal life, safe in the love of Our Savior.
He is risen… and through his mercy, we will rise in him. Alleluia!