Jesus himself drew near and walked with them
The story of the Emmaus’ Disciples is so rich in meaning that each one of us could spend weeks or months reflecting on each one of the elements of this rich text. I would like you to consider for now just one of the elements: the fact that Jesus approached them: Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.
How do you feel when you don’t understand what is going on in your life? Or why some things happened in your life? Or maybe you have experienced that everything you hoped for is taken away, and there is nothing you can do about it? Well that is what happened to the disciples in the Gospel, but God never leaves us alone. Jesus is with us, especially in the moments more difficult in our life, when we are leaving behind the things that are more precious for us. That is when He drew near to us, He always is close to us, but we do not always feel his presence or recognize him because we might be so focused in ourselves that we don’t have eyes to see him.
The experience of the Disciples of Emmaus shows the exquisite love of Jesus for us and how much He cares for us. We share with them the part when Jesus comes close to us, and he walks with us, but not always do we share with them the last part: With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. It is a grace to be able to see him in our lives, sometimes some people have that gift: to perceive the presence of God around them.
Whether we recognize him or not, or we feel his presence or not, doesn’t mean He is not with us. He is always there, even when we walk away from him. He not only approaches us, but he walks with us, and in doing so, He is able to see what we see, to feel what we feel, and to understand us, sometimes more than we understand ourselves.
As the letter to the Hebrews (4:15) affirms: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. In that walk with us, He helps us to understand ourselves and the mystery of life and death.
The promise of Jesus that He will be with us always, is not a promise of an inert presence, but is dynamic and so alive in this world and in our lives, that without Him, we will not exist: God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ (Acts 17:27-28).
But sometimes we are not able to see Him, and that is something we need to learn. In the world we live, sometimes we don’t see the very things, but we have learned to identify the effect of them. When we hear, cars crashing in to each other, the acute sound of breaks… we don’t see it, but we know what happened, because with time, we have learned to identify the elements of the precise event. Elements that in the beginning were unknown to us, but now we know and are able to recognize.
With the presence of God, the same happened, we may not see Him, but we need to learn to identify the elements of this world that belongs to him: true love, peace, life, kindness, self-denial, magnanimity, beauty… We need to learn to identify the sound of His voice among all the many voices we hear every day. And this is possible if we seriously apply ourselves to this, through prayer and formation. It is only then that our eyes will open and we will recognize that He is close to us, and He walks with us.