I think we have all been there….on the Road to Emmaus… Down trodden, worried, headed back to the known familiar routines of life,
Heading back to those things we have always known after having been enlivened and inspirited or inspired by a dream of something being different.
The road to Emmaus is the road of disillusionment…a road all too familiar to the human condition.
And that is the beauty of this Gospel pericope…. This story touches our lives in a way that no other Gospel story does and it is only recorded in Luke’s’ gospel.
So let’s look at some of the Biblical facts before we get into the story itself.
Modern biblical scholarship informs us that there are currently no less than 6 sites that claim to be the Emmaus of this story….and those scholars will also point out, there is nearly no possible way to distinguish or delineate with any certitude which of those 6 or if even any of those current 6 are truly the site of this Gospel story.
Biblical scholars also point out when there exists a lack of geographical or grammatical or historical certitude in the study of Sacred Scripture, it is probably because there is a fundamental truth that is hidden in the context or the metaphor of the story….
So what that means is that maybe Emmaus isn’t a physical location….but rather a common experience…a metaphor While Jerusalem in this story is a historical and physical and geographical location, it could also be in this context another…common experience….so both Emmaus and Jerusalem could be metaphors for some larger truth for us to explore.
Another interesting fact….( I have to stop and for a brief second and share with you all…..this is one, if not my absolute favorite Gospel story….Kathy and I chose it as our Gospel for our wedding liturgy…and I
have not ceased studying it) If you noticed…the Gospel says when Jesus asked about “what things”….the story names one person…Cleopas…who offered his reply. In Biblical Scholarship, from a linguistic point of view….if there is a male and female in a story…given the cultural context of the time…only the male is named. Thus we can easily conclude that the disciples on the Road to Emmaus were most likely a couple, maybe even a married couple.
Then there is the most famous line…but we were hoping…in the Greek, the most accurate translation would most likely read….yet we were inspired by hope…. Now if we take the current biblical scholarship and the churches historical context and our current reality and mix all that together and pray God’s guidance we might come up with something like this:
We all have the Road to Emmaus times in our lives.
We all have dreams, dreams about our futures, dreams about our lives, dreams about our families, dreams about our Church, dreams about our society, dreams about our world…
And every dream will experience some type of crucifixion…..
Every dream will be forced to walk the road to Calvary and be nailed to the Cross….
And if those dreams are dreams inspired by God….they will all be resurrected in some way, at some time…
If this Gospel story does anything for us, it ought to inspire us to turn back to our respective Jerusalem…to one again touch the excitement, joy, struggles and sorrows of our dreams and to know, beyond a doubt that the stone of the tombs into which we have placed those dreams will be rolled away.
It will surprise us when it happens…we may be locked in some upper room in our fear It may happen when we are visiting a grave, It may happen when we are on the road of disillusionment and disappointment.
Yet the one thing is clear…..what will always remain….because it is grounded in God…is HOPE.
Remember the disciples shared with Jesus….”yet we were inspired by hope, that he would be the one to redeem….” Hope is not some polyanna vision that ignores reality…. Hope is the divine ground from which our Dreams can be born again….in new ways, in different ways, in unimaginable ways.
When our hearts burn within us…..when our spirits are lifted- encouraged-illuminated-inspired…then we will know we are touching the Divine….
Especially in these days, when we are faced with mystery, fear and the unknown, we need to go back to Jerusalem…we need to go back to those things that give us hope.
Whatever that is for us in our lives….whatever gives, inspires or ignites hope we need to grab….we need to grasp once again, tap into once again…and let the Holy Spirit open up the door way to the Divine.
When it happens for us, I challenge us all to share it with someone else this week. When you touch the face of hope, let someone else know.
Because just like on the road to Emmaus, someone might recognize the Christ that we have encountered, in the breaking of the bread in our story and in turn be inspired to go back to their Jerusalem and look for theirs as well!