In the story of the journey to Emmaus there’s something going on.
Yes, the disciples, like Mary Magdalene in John’s account of the Resurrection, were in Jesus’ presence and didn’t know he was there. That says something about the Resurrected life: it’s the same life, the same person – but there’s also something profoundly different. The previous life is blurred, at first unrecognizable.
But, I think there’s also more here. Here in the later chapters of his gospel, Luke is talking to his community about worship and Jesus’ abiding Presence.
As soon as Jesus receives confirmation that these disciples have 1) no idea who he is, and 2) no idea what’s going on, he launches into his story…beginning with Moses and all the prophets.
On the Road to Emmaus they have a Liturgy of the Word.
I think it’s interesting that Luke doesn’t give us great detail here. He doesn’t give us the chapters and verses (as if the Bible had chapters and verses at that point…) or specific narratives which tell the story of Jesus in the Hebrew Bible.
Personally, I think it’s an invitation: I think Luke is baiting his community (and us) to read the Hebrew Bible and look for Jesus there. Where’s Incarnation in the Exodus? Where’s Resurrection in the Babylonian captivity? Let’s go find out!
Jesus has a Liturgy of the Table after a Liturgy of the Word.
And, of course, it’s in the breaking of the bread that the veil is lifted, and they recognize the Risen Lord in front of them.
And then as quickly as he came, he’s gone.
Luke’s message to us is clear: Jesus is everywhere, even when unseen. He’s in the story of the People of God going back to Moses, and sometimes he’s right in front of our faces. And, while the veil may lift on many occasions and holy opportunities, it is readily lifted when we gather together for worship; breaking open the scriptures and breaking open the bread.
Luke asks his community, and us, to realize that he’s with us. And, when we gather to worship, even as two or three as there were on the road to Emmaus that day, Christ is so close we can touch him…and share in his life in the breaking of bread.
Even if we have no idea who he is, or what’s going on.
And, boy is that good news.