There have been times in my life I have read this Gospel story and wondered how these disciples could not have recognized Jesus. Why were their “eyes prevented from recognizing him”? Clearly, they had known Him as more than a social figure or mere acquaintance in the way they were mourning His death, so what blinded them to who He was that evening as they walked along the road to Emmaus?
But I have to admit to myself that I am not unlike them. Far too often in my life, I walk with my head down, defeated, wondering where God is in all that I am battling, and I fail to see Him walking faithfully beside me.
I am all too quick to lament the cross I am burdened with rather than look with hope for the presence of the resurrected Jesus in my life. But in His mercy, Jesus does not let my lack of spiritual insight or even my self-centered preoccupation keep Him from me. Not only does He still draw near to me, but He stays near with an insistent presence until I really “see” Him, until my eyes are opened to Him, walking there beside me. He comes to me in His Word and generously reveals truth to me. He sits with me at the table and breaks bread with me, both in the Sacraments and His presence in the Eucharist, and also in all the tangible, physical ways His presence weaves itself into my days.
And I realize that I have a choice. I lament my foolishness, or I can choose, like the prophet David and the Apostle Peter and the disciples of Emmaus to turn my opened eyes back to the wonder of the Resurrection and claim it, to let go of the moments I did not recognize Jesus there beside me, and embrace the joy I have in His constant presence instead. I can choose to turn back and proclaim the risen Christ to the world and let them know that He is alive, walking this road with us, and inviting us with a generous love to see Him.
What great hope there is for my foolish heart in this Jesus, who can neither be held by death nor my lack of sight, but continues to appear in my life and offer Himself to me again and again until I look up and truly see.
How do you see Jesus? Do you recognize Him today?
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to care for them pre and postpartum. She is the author of Who Does He Say You Are. Find out more about her here.