Regular Folks Walking on a Road

We have just had a whole string of Gospel readings over the past several weeks that feature the heavy hitters, the all stars, the headliners… people like Mary Magdalene, Peter, Thomas, Andrew, John, and of course, Jesus. They were in famous places like the upper room, a courtyard, the praetorium, Golgotha, and an empty tomb. And the events were the signature events of our faith: the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.

Which is why I love today’s Gospel. Today’s Gospel takes place on a nameless road and the two main stars are everyday, regular folks. Like us.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m a big fan of the superstars, the famous places, and the well known events of the Gospel, but I can relate to two regular people walking on a road. Roads are such a great metaphor for life. We move from one place to another. We have adventures along the way. We see some nice sights, meet others, and hit potholes.

We can relate to regular folks walking on a road.

Of course, the two individuals on that particular road had no idea who was walking along with them. They knew of the reported events from Jerusalem, but clearly their relationship to what had happened was from a distance. Yet The Divine Risen Son of God was hardly distant: he was right there… next to them!

In this story, they went through a transformation of sorts – from two people at an arms length to salvation to ones who had a personal… a deeply personal… encounter with Jesus.

This happened because they chose to learn, to listen, to try to understand. The stranger they met explained scripture to them based on those recent events in Jerusalem.

Then, they invited Jesus in, to be with them.

And finally, they experienced the Eucharist… and that completed their movement, opened their eyes, and closed the gap. They understood.

I’d like to reflect on the fact that at the beginning of this simple story, there were two individuals moving from one place to another and who were accompanied, even though they did not understand fully what that meant.

Some of us experience a road in life full of challenge and obstacles. For some of us, that road has great worry and unyielding concern, or sadness, or lack of hope. Or maybe our road has wounded us, in ways that others can easily see… or in ways that are more hidden. For some of us, the road is short and for others it’s long. For some, it’s straight and for others, it is a heavy and unrelenting climb upward.

The road can be great.

The road can be tough.

But, like the two regular folks walking on the road to Emmaus, we should remember that we are accompanied. At all times. Even when it’s far from obvious and even when it feels impossible to really know for sure.

For the trip, he gives us the stories that we should learn and try to understand. We have the Eucharist to help us feel connected. And, we have each other. We can be travel buddies, you and I, easing the burden for each other.

And we are called to aid even those who we don’t know, as did the Samaritan on the road to Jericho, and as did Simon on Christ’s road to Calvary.

We can relate to regular folks walking on a road.

And… we can celebrate with gratitude that Jesus is right there next to us. Always.

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