You’re probably very familiar with what happened to the two disciples of Jesus as they were walking to Emmaus on the day of the Resurrection. The event is recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel (24: 13-35) and appears prominently in the liturgy during the Easter Season.
A brief summary: The disciples were walking together from Jerusalem, discussing recent events; Jesus joined them but they didn’t recognize him; Jesus explained to them how the Prophets had foretold that the Messiah would suffer; the travelers stopped for the evening as they neared their destination; the disciples then recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread; Jesus disappeared and they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what had happened.
The Emmaus story is a preacher’s treasure chest. So many homiletic themes emerge from this compelling and beautiful story. But here I’d like to focus on the simple fact that the disciples were walking together, reflecting on what had just happened in Jerusalem. Walking together, sharing their experience – isn’t that what the Church is all about?
People joined together, first by their baptism, and then by the faith, hope and love they share; a community that discovers Jesus in the word preached and the bread broken; believers traveling together in moments of joy and sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat, life and death; that’s the Church!
No Christian is an island, and no one can be a complete Catholic without the Church. As Pope Francis said during a general audience: “We are Christians because we belong to the Church. There are no free agents in the Church. To be a Christian means belonging to the Church.”
As social animals we need to be with one another. And that became abundantly clear during the pandemic through which we’ve all suffered. How many families were separated, how many folks, especially the elderly, suffered painful loneliness and deep depression from the isolation.
And what we’ve experienced in our own families we’ve known as a Church family too. Watching the Mass virtually is not enough. Computer communities aren’t really communities at all. That’s why, as soon as possible we need to get back to Church, to get back to Sunday Mass. We need to see and greet one another, and support one another in our journey of faith. For it’s precisely when we’re walking together that Jesus will accompany us, teach us, nourish us, and save us.