We are all on a journey! But where am I heading? I may know the name of the road. I need to look at the signs to see whether I am heading east or west, north or south. I need to know where I am going and why.
Figuratively, all of us are on the “Emmaus Road”. Are we fleeing to Emmaus or heading to community where we will find the center of our lives as a followers of Jesus?
We know the story
Two followers of Jesus are on the Emmaus Road. They are confused, disoriented, perhaps even feeling deceived.
A stranger enters their lives and helps them see the big picture. Their hearts become light with excitement. They beg him to stay with them for a meal. A moment of insight opens their eyes! Then he disappears! But not before they recognized in the breaking of the bread that it was Jesus who had just helped them make sense of the week’s events. They now know which direction they need to take on Emmaus Road. Back to Jerusalem to rejoice with other followers.
Can we see ourselves in that story?
How often do we travel mindlessly along the roads of our lives not knowing whether we are heading north or south, east or west? We are simply on the road.
We don’t take the time to look beyond our immediate concerns. We are focused on our disappointments, confusion, or aimlessness. We welcome the distraction of the billboards that catch our attention.
A “stranger” comes into our lives… a spouse, a friend, a spiritual director, a teacher… maybe even a misfortune. The experience does not register at first. As we walk something clicks. We begin to make connections. We begin to know where the center of our lives is and which direction to travel.
For Paul, journeying to persecute Christians, it was a shattering experience. He was confident he was moving in the right direction. Then he got struck down, turned around. He spent months with his mentors learning about a new direction in his life.
Sometimes God wakes us up gently (Emmaus). Sometimes God shakes us up (Damascus).
The stories of the Acts of the Apostles
In the stories of the Acts of the Apostles we watch as a community slowly begins to understand the cross as the most dramatic proof of love. They begin to understand Jesus’ command at the Last Supper is not only to those attending, but to each of us. “Wash one another’s feet!”
They began to see the cross as Jesus’ showing the ultimate way God of washes us, even unbelievers and Gentiles, with Divine love. It took them a while to understand we are to wash one another’s feet.
The Acts of the Apostles show the community and Paul struggling in ways they had not anticipated. They had to sort out so much of what they believed and practiced for centuries. Where did all the laws they were taught about what was clean and unclean and their temple practices fit in? What was enduring in their previous life and how to look at that in a new way? They wake up to the mission to do what Jesus did.
They were constantly ‘reading the signs of the times,’ growing in their understanding.
Food for thought…
- Am I struggling on the way to Emmaus… or certain on the road to Damascus?
- Who are the people who walk with me and open my eyes?
- Do I learn in communion with other followers?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk