Why is it that our Lord is not known at first by the disciples on the road to Emmaus? Did they not remember His face, His voice, His walk? How could they see Him and not know it was Jesus speaking to them, guiding them, encouraging them? Because they did not believe in Jesus as He really is. The faith of these two disciples was not in the God-man, but in a revolutionary, one who would restore the kingdom of Israel. They looked for the redemption of Israel from the rule of the Roman Empire, for God to elevate them to being the greatest power. But God did something far greater for them through Jesus, something which God had foretold throughout the centuries before the birth of Christ.
The great tragedy of many Catholics is that they don’t understand who Jesus is. We often try to paint Him as being close to what we are. If we are more liberal-minded, we see Jesus as the great revolutionary working to free the poor and liberate people from stuffy dogmas and doctrine. If we are conservative, we see Jesus as being more concerned with family values or human life or anything that is traditional and beneficial to human growth and prosperity. Yet Jesus cannot be painted into a corner; He is far more different than that.
This is the reason why the two disciples could not see Jesus when He was before them on that road: they were too enraptured in their particular understanding of Him. This is why Jesus almost seems to laugh as He exclaims His wonder that they do not realize who the Christ had to be and what He had to do. We can try to make Jesus be a guerilla fighter or a company man, but He is ultimately the Christ - the one anointed by God to be the Paschal lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
Do we see Jesus as He really is? Or do we keep Him in our nice, simple images that are rather comfortable to us? If Jesus does not challenge us, does not force us to reconsider our views or our ideas, is He really a good founder of a religion? Each Sunday, we gather together to do the same things these two disciples did: we break open the Scriptures to discover Jesus, we listen to the homily so that our hearts may burn as did the disciples’ hearts, and then we break the bread and discover once more Jesus really and truly present among us to be our spiritual food.
Brethren, let us humble ourselves as were the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Let us hear Jesus trying to reveal Himself to us through the sacred actions of the Church: the Scriptures, the preaching, the sacraments, in particular the Eucharist. Let our hearts burn with a desire to know Jesus, to love Him, and to serve Him in everything that we do. As we continue to rejoice in the victory that He won for us in His death and resurrection, let us not remain unaffected by what He did, but let our eyes be opened as were the two disciples so as to see Jesus for who He truly is: the savior of the world. May we receive this tremendous grace, so that we may progress more quickly on our own road, the road to eternal life.