We shouldn’t think too badly of poor Cleopas and his companion. After all, it had been a devastating several days for them. As disciples of Jesus, they had invested so much time, energy and emotion into him and his teaching. But then, the anticipation and excitement they felt a week earlier, when Jesus had entered triumphantly into Jerusalem, was abruptly cut short by his gruesome death. It’s no wonder their thoughts were troubled and that they could see nothing but a bleak future. And so they left the other disciples back in Jerusalem and set out for Emmaus. After all, they were only human.
And that’s just the point. They couldn’t recognize Jesus when he joined them on the road because their faith, which had suffered a troubling blow, needed to be supplemented with divine revelation. And that’s exactly what Our Lord inserted into their animated conversation. He explained the Scriptures to them from his perspective. His words stirred something deep within their hearts, and they began to feel a sense of hope again. Then it all came together when Our Lord blessed and broke the bread. A combination of the Word of God, the power of revelation, and hearts newly set on fire; and finally, they saw Jesus.
Isn’t this the story of our own lives? So often, we think about our own particular circumstances, our community life, our families, or the world around us. At times these thoughts leave us discouraged or believing even that Jesus isn’t close to us. But nothing could be further from the truth. Our Lord is never absent; he walks alongside us every step we take through life.
Today’s gospel teaches us how the disciples had to slow down in order to listen to Jesus; they had to stop their own discussions in order to hear him. And that’s exactly what we need to do. No matter what we do with our lives we all need to slow down and, at times to stop completely, and listen to Our Lord speaking to us. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own plans for the future and neglect what is necessary. Not my will, but thy will be done.