Today’s Gospel of the encounter of two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus is full of meaning. A friend, Jim Forest, even has a book inspired by that encounter, The Road to Emmaus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life.
But this morning I was again surprised by God.
These past two weeks I have tried to read the Gospel in various translations in several languages – most notably Spanish, English, and Greek. These long days at home are a great opportunity to ponder the scriptures.
The story is well known. After Jesus broke bread with them and disappeared, they recognized him and noted how their hearts were burning. And then?
According to the US lectionary New American Bible translation, “they set out at once.” The Spanish lectionary reads “se levantaron inmediatamente” – “they got up immediately.” But the Greek reads “ἀναστάντες” – “rising up.” (Luke 24:33)
It’s the very same work that Peter used about Jesus in his Pentecost sermon, “ὃν ὁ θεὸς ἀνέστησεν” – whom God raised up.
The reaction of the disciples was a resurrection in their lives and they returned to the city where their hopes seemed to be shattered and where they encountered persecution and maybe even death. But they returned to Jerusalem with the Spirit of the risen Lord.
May this Spirit raise us up – especially when we feel downcast, as did Cleopas when he first encountered the Lord on the road.
As Pope Francis said in a homily on April 29, 2017:
“When we reach the depths of failure and helplessness, when we rid ourselves of the illusion that we are the best, sufficient unto ourselves and the centre of our world, then God reaches out to us to turn our night into dawn, our affliction into joy, our death into resurrection. He turns our steps back to Jerusalem, back to life and to the victory of the Cross (cf. Heb 11:34).”