The last thing the heartbroken disciples probably wanted to do on the road to Emmaus was to be bothered by a stranger. It would have been easier to excuse themselves or to wave the stranger away. But they also couldn’t help but unburden to this person. So before they knew it, they had been drawn into a lengthy conversation that also affected them in a way they couldn’t understand.
Later, recalling the incident, they told one another:
“Did not our hearts burn within us
while he talked to us on the road,
while he opened to us the scriptures?”
If the disciples had decided to ignore the stranger on the road and focused only on their disappointments, they would have missed out on this Easter appearance of the Lord.
What the story of Emmaus teaches us is that when all seems lost, when, like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, we find ourselves running on empty or stuck at some dead end, the last thing we should do is to become so self-absorbed that we miss out on possible Easters.
Instead of looking down in despair, we need to look around in hope and in search of the Risen Lord. We should open our hearts wide enough to detect the Lord’s approach. When we feel our hearts burning–that’s one very likely sign of our own private Easter appearance.
Because they welcomed the Risen Lord–even if they hadn’t yet understood it at the time–their dead end was turned into a detour. Their broken road led them somewhere else.