gospel reflection

Spiritual Geography

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One of the last things said by a priest at a Catholic Funeral is to bid farewell to the deceased person as they travel now towards the ‘new and eternal Jerusalem’. This gives us a hint that geography is important in our Gospel this week, because the two disciples on the road were heading away from Jerusalem not towards it.

It is interesting to note that there is controversy as to where Emmaus actually is. There are up to nine candidates for its location, and even today, four towns in modern day Israel claim to the Emmaus of the scriptures. In the midst of this uncertainty might we suggest that the underlay for this story is a spiritual one. Could it be that the ‘road to Emmaus’ is code for the journey from the certainties of faith in Jesus Christ towards the confusion of the world?

All of us face this temptation, to turn our back on the promise of salvation through friendship with Christ, and to instead embrace the bright lights, but ultimate darkness, of a life separated from God. And, as we move away, like those first disciples, we too might ask ‘where is Jesus?…’

The answer to that question is given to us very beautifully at the end of our Gospel today. Jesus reveals himself in the Scriptures and in the breaking of the bread. This is of course at the heart of our Catholic faith and at the heart of the Mass – Word and Sacrament. Jesus does not abandon us, He is always walking along side, even when the direction of our lives is taking us away. It is in our faithfulness to the Scriptures and to the Eucharist that we will recognize him. And, like those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we will turn around and run back to Jerusalem.

Fr John

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