Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (From the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 24 verses 13-35)
Today’s gospel reading concludes the story of two unnamed disciples (part of the wider
company of Jesus’ followers) who found themselves unknowingly in the company of the risen Jesus on the evening of the first Easter Sunday. The two disciples were walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus (a journey of some 7 miles), when a stranger joined them. In their grief – they did not yet know that Jesus was alive – they failed to recognise him. But something in them was instinctively drawn to him: ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?’
To the reader Jesus is already alive; to the two disciples he was still dead. But something in their hearts; something beyond understanding, beyond knowledge, beyond rationalising, reached out and began to embrace a truth they did not yet recognise was already present; already walking at their side.
For a time we find ourselves entombed; locked down – of necessity and out of mutual care for one another and for all. In different ways, and to differing degrees, we are all journeying with our load of anguish, sorrow and pain. Our liberation from the Coronavirus pandemic is some way off; it is not yet. The pandemic, and its consequences still dominate our lives, our behaviour, our thinking. Yet, like the disciples travelling a road where the destination seems not yet to have been reached, if we reach beyond what we know intellectually, we may find that our hearts too are burning within us, with the knowledge that Christ has been raised from the dead. And that in him we too have been liberated from all that can ever bind us. Like those two disciples we may find that while we are still on the way, we have already met the Way.