The Emmaus story is the story of our lives as disciples of Jesus who journey together along the way through this earthly pilgrimage. We face challenges, dashed hopes, disappointments, lost relationships and many others. Like the two disciples going to Emmaus, we are on life journey through the trials and challenges, disappointments and discouragements of this life. In this situation, everything is too much for us to bear and we want to get away from our places of hopelessness. In this way we talk with one another about our experiences. In our journey, we think that we are all alone. But Jesus is there listening, sharing and journeying with us. Many times we do not recognize his presence in our midst because we identify more with sufferings than with the message of the resurrection. But Jesus does not give up on us. He explains the Scriptures to us and offers us the gift of peace of mind and heart; he offers us his spirit and love.
The Emmaus account reveals the paradox of Jesus’ mysterious and hidden presence among us. He exhibits himself in his glorified state. He was not limited by space and time. He passed through walls and closed doors which no human possessing the body could do. At the same time, he showed himself so that his disciples could see and touch him. He gave proof of his corporeality by offering his body for them to touch and eating baked fish with them. Fish was the symbol of the Eucharistic presence of the risen Christ. In his appearances, he gives us assurance of his resurrection and dispels our fears that he is not a ghost, rather, he is one with us in our experiences of life. His appearances give semblances of the Eucharistic context. That is why in the early Church, bread and fish, in Greek ‘Ixthus’ which came to be the symbol of the Eucharist meaning- ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God, saves.’ Jesus in the Eucharist is the food for our journey- Our ‘Viaticum.’ He journeys with us through life in all circumstances. In every Eucharistic celebration, Jesus journeys with us through times and opens the Scriptures to us. In the liturgy of the word, he reveals himself as the word of God, the meaning, the interpreter and the preacher of the word of God. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, he opens our eyes to recognize him as the one who at the last supper offered himself to us, empowering us to continue to do it in his memory. He opens our eyes to recognize him, the one who was sacrificed on the cross on Calvary to atone for the sins of the world; the one who died and rose again from the dead for the salvation of the whole world. In the Eucharist, he is now the food for our journey and the foretaste of the future glory for us.
In the Eucharist, Peter and the apostles were strengthened and animated by the Spirit of the risen Christ to bear courageous and fearless witness to the Christ-event. That is why in our first reading, on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the eleven and proclaimed to the Jew, confronting them to their faces how they disowned Jesus and handed him over to the pagans to be crucified. He was the savior appointed by God for their salvation. But God raised him from the dead because it was impossible that death should keep its hold on him. Peter and the apostles had experienced the risen Lord and so, they expressed the impression Jesus made on them through their preaching. This characterizes the experience of all those who encounter Jesus in life situations along the way and come later to recognize him. As Jesus did with the apostles, so does he do with each of us in our own times. Jesus continues to reveal himself to us and to empower us within the context of the Eucharistic celebration so that we can go and bear fearless witness to his life, death and resurrection.
Many times, we do not recognize the great treasure we have in the Eucharist. As a result of too much familiarity and distractions we have in the household of God, experiencing the power of the Eucharist eludes us, we do not experience Jesus present in our midst. To better experience him, who is present among us, today St. Peter exhorts us to conduct ourselves reverently during our sojourn in a strange land, realizing that we were delivered by the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb chosen before the world’s foundation and revealed for our sake in these last days.