Tag Archives: disciples of Emmaus

Stopped in the tracks

They stood still, a picture of gloom.
Luke 24:17

When Jesus approached the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they were stopped in their tracks and, as I translate the Greek, looked sullen.

I remember one time I was stopped in my tracks. In 1979 I spent three weeks working with a Irish Fellowship of Reconciliation playscheme for Catholic and Protestant kids in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.

I arrive in Northern Ireland by train and had to wait in Portadown for the train to Belfast. As I went through the exit, someone pointed out a coffee shop to me a block from the station. As I walked I saw several British soldiers with machine guns.

I stopped in my tracks – frozen.

I don’t know how long I stood there but the guy who had told me about the coffee shop passed by and pointed me in the right direction.

As I passed the solder with the machine gun, he quietly greeting me with a “Good morning.”

I think that, if that one person had not stopped and showed me the coffee shop, I would still be there even today.

The human touch. The word to a person who is stuck, stopped in mid-course. These can be redeeming moments.

Christ does not come to these disciples to castigate them, to preach to them, but to be with them and open their eyes to the depths of the reality around them.

When we stand beside someone, when we listen and let the person share fears, hopes, and joys, we are following the example of a God who listens, who shares our lives. We are letting God break bread with us.

And then we can move on – sustained with the breaking of bread – and return to the places of fears and hopes.

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Stay with us, Lord

For me a highlight of today’s Gospel is the invitation of the disciples on the road to Emmaus:

“Stay with us, it’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.”
Luke 24:29

 The day has been long, the walk arduous (about 12 kilometers), the sorrow of the crucifixion is slowly being replaced by understanding, and their “new” friend is about to move on.

So they invite Jesus, whom they haven’t recognized, to stop and stay with them.

The final document from the 2007 Latin American and Caribbean bishops conference in Aparecida, Brazil, closes with a prayer reflection on these words. In part they read:

Stay with us, Lord,
keep us company, even though we have not always recognized you.
Stay with us, because all around us the shadows are deepening,
and you are the Light;
discouragement is eating its way into our hearts:
make them burn with the certainty of Easter.
We are tired of the journey,
but you comfort us in the breaking of bread,
so that we are able to proclaim to our brothers and sisters
that you have truly risen
and have entrusted us with the mission
of being witnesses of your resurrection.

Stay, Lord, with those in our societies who are most vulnerable;
remain with the poor and the lowly,
with indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans,
who have not always found space and support
to express the richness of their culture
and the wisdom of their identity.
Remain, Lord, with our children
and with our young people,
who are the hope and the treasure of our Continent,
protect them from so many snares
that attack their innocence and their legitimate hopes.
O Good Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick.
Strengthen them all in faith,
so that they may be your disciples and missionaries!