If you’ve ever had that feeling of euphoria due to a sense that you’re touching greatness, then you should be able to, at least a little bit, relate with the feelings these two disciples experienced after taking that road to Emmaus. I would like to think they felt somehow different during their walk and talk that day with Jesus but we are not given any indication that they even knew WHO they were talking with. The euphoric and ecstatic feelings they were to experience didn’t come until AFTER the blessing and breaking of bread along with the divine disappearing act to fully connect their experience with reality.
Their special experience with the Lord that day – when He scolded them for their ignorance and then opened the Scriptures to them – made an impression, but the life changing event for them – the TA-DA moment – was the blessing, the breaking of bread. They’d spent the whole day with the risen Christ and they didn’t get it; until all of a sudden, in the twinkling of an eye, they saw The Lord.
Most of us are naturally disposed to think that the important – life altering – events in our lives are surprising, striking and sudden. But the reality is, they almost always involve a prolonged set-up for the big event. Getting married is an example of this. While the ceremony joining man and woman together “till death they do part” takes a mere 5 minutes to perform, the 20 or 30 years prior to that relatively tiny moment in time are essential preparation even though the couple spend most of it not even knowing each other – without that prolonged individual and familial preparation the two would not be ready to understand what it means to say “I do” and to live that vow with every fiber of their being – the two would not be prepared to actualize what becoming “one flesh” is.
In this world, we look at the plan of our lives from outside, not from inside. We deal with the tasks of each day, of each hour, as they come; we haven’t the capacity to make a plan or a roadmap for all of the events that take place in our lives. Like the mountaineer who sees the peak he hopes to climb in the distance, but he still must of necessity navigate his way across the stream before him and then evade the hungry bear waiting on the other side.
While the sensational and revelational is what leaves the impression, it’s the prelude to it that makes it truly exceptional. Sadly, due to our preoccupation and distraction with the present moment, we like the two disciples are often only able to recollect how our hearts “burned within us” only after the moment of recognition has passed. We may, in truth, be walking along in the ordinary course of things with Our Lord Jesus Christ, who for whatever reason veils His presence from us – we have to wonder if He is veiled because of something we’ve done. And how many times have we not been aware of His presence and have failed to experience even that re-collective “burning in our heart” because we were looking somewhere else when he revealed Himself for us to see – like the chicken who when God was handing out brains hid behind the door. How often even do we not notice His presence in the reading of Scripture or His revelation to us in the breaking of bread?
The two disciples remembered how their hearts burned within them – how they were on fire for The Lord – only after their eyes were opened (note that their eyes were “opened” by God, they did not open them themselves). It is not in some cuddly sense of community that we know Our Lord, it is in Communion with Him alone – our personally and intentionally cooperating with His will – that we know Him
From a sophisticated world perspective, Our Lord’s religion has a homely, ordinary appearance; its holy books bear the marks of regular human enterprise; its Sacraments are remarkable for their simplicity; its ministers are not necessarily exceptional and all are sinful, even sometimes foolish men. But despite the un-remarkableness of His Church as the world judges things, the Incarnate Word of God who lives and reigns with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost is truly present in it. The Divine gives Himself to us in ordinary things; not the least of which, bread and wine, as He ordains it become His very Body and Blood – given to us for our true food and drink (Jn 6:55).
The two disciples on their way to Emmaus found the presence of the Eternal and the Divine in common familiar stuff. The Lord reveled Himself to them as to us, as Saint Mark tells us in His Gospel, “in another form” (Mk 16:12). Make it your objective to experience Him in the common things of life and not merely the exceptional experience. Perseverance in prayer, obedience in commandment and charity in all things. And never neglect to unaffectedly Communion with your God in purity of heart in the Most Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.