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, or at least ‘direction’ is important in our Gospel this week. Yes, our biblical text tells us the two disciples on the road were heading away from Jerusalem not towards it.
It’s interesting to note that there is modern day controversy as to where Emmaus actually is. There are up to nine candidates for its location, and even in Israel today, four towns claim to the Emmaus of the scriptures. Perhaps in the end, the exact location of the town is less important than its spiritual significance. 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 Jesus Christ, and to instead embrace the bright lights of secular culture. But those bright lights in fact lead us into darkness and a life separated from God. As we head away from ‘Jerusalem we too find ourselves asking – 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, the heart of our Catholic faith. Jesus does not abandon us, He is always walking along side, even when the direction of our lives is taking us away. It’s in our faithfulness to the Scriptures. and to the Eucharist, that we will recognize him once more.