The Way of Beauty 'Don’t Go. Stay with Us.'

Duccio di Buoninsegna   Road to Emmaus   WGA06821 The Road to Emmaus by Duccio via Wikicommons.

Most of us have seen war movies in which families are exchanging good-byes with loved ones.  The parting evokes few words; the unspoken feelings repeat: 'Don't go. Stay with us.' 

The Risen Lord Humors Two Disciples

A few days after the Resurrection event, two disciples, Cleopas and his friend, were walking along the road to Emmaus.  Jesus, now the Risen Lord, caught up with them and joined in the lively conversation. They of course didn't recognize him. On the one hand, they vented sadness, and on the other, bewilderment about the rumor of the empty tomb and the Lord's Resurrection.  

'What are you talking about,' Jesus asked?  Was he about to humor them? What was he up to?

Amazed, they stood still, incredulous at his ignorance. 'Everyone is talking about the rumor,' they blurted out. Where have you been for the past few days? Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who hasn't heard the breaking news?  Everyone's talking about the empty tomb. How could you have missed the news?' 

Keeping a straight face but chuckling to himself, Jesus asked: 'What news?' He was not above a little fun-surely enjoying the repartee. 

Out came their breathless narrative, word stumbling over word: 'All about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.  The chief priests handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he would be the one to save Israel.  It's been three days. Some women from our group astounded us.  They went to the tomb in the early morning and didn't find the body.' 

[And then], 'they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive.' 

[And then], 'some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything as the women had reported but they didn't see Jesus.  The whole story is incredible. White-robed angels, stone rolled back, empty tomb, shroud left behind.  Who ever heard of a corpse being resurrected from the dead?'   

They came up for air.  

Now it was Jesus' turn to speak, to instruct, and to console. His eyes met theirs and, in his deep, steady voice replied: "O foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared.  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory? 

Then he interpreted to them the things in all the scriptures, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, that pointed to himself.  

Why were their pulses quickening, their hearts burning?  There was no recognition.  And yet. . . .

'Who is this curious fellow,' they wondered? Maybe he's not such a country bumpkin after all.  Maybe he knows more than he's saying. He certainly knows his scriptures.'

They pressed him not to go but to stay with them for supper.  As the three reclined at table, he took the bread, said the blessing, and broke it. Suddenly, he vanished from their sight. 

Suddenly, their eyes were opened.  Now, they recognized him.  It was the Lord. 'He broke bread with us. We were so caught up in our grief that he had to give us a more concrete sign that he was alive.'

Jesus' Ubiquitous Presence

More in The Way of Beauty

Such is the way of the Lord.  He brings us to faith by dropping clues of his presence in our path.  Didn't he use a similar approach with the Samaritan woman at the well? From one contemporary view, Jesus' miraculous appearance is hardly necessary when his presence in the Eucharist is firm.  Still, he has assured us: 'I will be with you always.' The clues of his presence are everywhere-what the Church refers to as Providence, found in daily life, in others who walk alongside us, and in events over which we have no control. The Emmaus story is ours, and we are the Emmaus disciples.


Luke 24:13-35

To Emmaus, the both of them went

In a state of acute discontent.

The two of them walked

Seven miles as they talked

(Column continues below)

Of the one catastrophic event.

It proved to be more heat than light,

When a stranger, believing he might

Shed more light than heat

By sounding upbeat,

Drew near though he hid from their sight.

He asked them: "What's caused a dispute

That makes you affirm, then refute?"

"Excuse if we stare,

But are you unaware

Of events we can hardly be mute?

"The good news in action and speech

The Nazarene prophet would preach.

He needed no prod

As the chosen of God

To cure illness, pardon, or teach.

"Our priests after more than one try

Had him judged and then sentenced to die.

We saw, agonized,

A man whom we prized-

How could one life have gone so awry?

"We thought him to be without fail

The one to redeem Israël.

In three days that passed

Since seeing him last,

We haven't yet ceased to bewail

"That they chose him to be crucified,

That he brutally suffered and died.

And to heighten our gloom,

There came from the tomb

Some women who looked petrified.

"They claim angels said he's survived.

While it's nothing we say they contrived,

We went to his tomb,

We thought, to exhume,

There we asked: "Could it be he's revived?"

He said, "How unwise on your part

Not to trust God with all of your heart.

The scriptural story

To enter his glory

Meant suffering these things from the start.

Let's begin with the prophets and Moses

And all that the Scripture supposes.

I'll make it quite plain

As I try to explain

What's been there right under your noses."

Shortly afterward, taking their leave,

He was stopped by their saying: "Now we've

Been enjoying your stay,

Throughout this whole day.

Don't go, or you'll make us both grieve."

He remained and at table reclined,

And when all three had suitably dined,

The blest bread he broke

(A pure master stroke)

And in one act was fully enshrined.

Their vision, once darkened, grew bright;

They knew now who slipped from their sight.

As brother to brother

Affirming each other,

They drew from a shared inner light.

"Our hearts, were they not truly burning

On the road as he helped us with learning?"

They returned to the city

Released from self-pity,

No longer the victims of yearning.

They reached home and looked slightly dazed,

Then found themselves jointly amazed

At receiving the word

(No longer absurd)

That Jesus had truly been raised.

The Eleven were told how Christ led

Them to faith by the things that he'd said,

And how suddenly he

Was synchronously 

Made known in the breaking of bread.

  • Joseph Roccasalvo 

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