Today the Gospel reading is one of my favorites: the story of the two disciples who walk to Emmaus, meeting the risen Lord on the way.
“Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”
Too often on the journey of life we find ourselves “downcast” and feeling alone, afraid and uncertain of what the future holds. But all the time, Jesus is with us, even when we do not recognize Him. He promised that He would be with us always, and He keeps His promises.
How do we learn to recognize His presence?
We have the Scriptures, which Jesus Himself explained to the disciples on the road. This is the Word of God, “living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword,” as St. Paul writes.
We also have the great gift of His Real Presence in “the breaking of the bread”—the Eucharist. Every single day, we can run to Him for nourishment and strength. He waits for us in every tabernacle in the world, and is made present at every Mass.
There are countless other ways to see the Lord in our everyday life, if we have eyes that are open to His grace—a song that speaks to our heart, a moment in prayer, a message from a friend, a smile from a friendly face …
Thomas Merton wrote a beautiful prayer for those who are uncertain of where the road leads and whether Jesus walks with them:
O Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and that fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire to please You. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to make my journey alone.
While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"