A Catholic Monthly Magazine


by Margaret Cullen

by Margaret Cullen

After the crucifixion one of Jesus’ disciples named Cleophas is made memorable by this story. He and a companion are walking to a town which Luke calls Emmaus, described by Luke as being sixty furlongs from Jerusalem. He is with a companion who is unnamed. I like to think that this companion is Mary, his wife. John reports in his Gospel that ‘his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalen had taken their stand beside the cross of Jesus’. However some early writers believed that Cleophas’ son Simeon was the companion.

Jesus appeared to them on the road to Emmaus as a stranger who had heard nothing of the doings of the last few days in Jerusalem. This surprised them, everyone was talking about it, but Jesus obviously wanted to hear their account of it all. It might puzzle us as to how Jesus kept himself hidden. He was different of course, from how they had last seen Him and a part of it was that they were just not expecting to see Him walking along this road to Emmaus, or any road for that matter. Jesus was dead, crucified, buried - a great disappointment to all his followers - they weren’t expecting such a shameful end, they just weren’t expecting his death no matter how many times He had told them of it. But He was also different in that He was now a transformed Jesus, a Jesus who could suddenly appear and disappear at will. Through closed doors too! And Jesus acted as though He was a stranger and hadn’t heard the latest news.

He wanted to hear their version of the story. This must have been a little bit of fun on His part, this story endears Him to us because of Jesus’ playfulness to those He loved.

Robert Zünd, The Road to Emmaus, 1877

Robert Zünd, The Road to Emmaus, 1877

“Stay with us,” they said.  So He did. He stayed with them. They had asked Him not yet knowing who He was but wanting His company. They were lonely, they were bereft of Jesus’ company, they wanted to talk and a stranger meant that they could blurt out the whole story into interested ears perhaps over and over.

He invited their talk. “What happenings?” He asked and after they describe it all to Him, He opened their eyes to all the parts of scripture in which He had been spoken of. What a walk that must have been, they just couldn’t let this man go on his way.

“Stay with us,” they pleaded “It is towards evening and far on in the day.” So He stayed with them at their home and they prepared dinner and “He took bread, blessed it and broke it,” Just simply stated ‘their eyes were opened’ and ‘as that happened ‘He disappeared from their sight.’

One can imagine them with a mixture of feelings - excitement, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us?’ And then disappointment. ‘We’ve lost Him again.’ They immediately (rising up there and then) returned to Jerusalem, a walk in the night. They found His followers gathered together in fear, but talking about Jesus appearing to Simon Peter. They told their story and there He was again appearing to them all. Gradually the strands were coming together for them all to realize that Jesus had risen.

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Our spiritual journey is like the road to Emmaus. We can pray to Jesus in the words of Cleophas and his companion ‘Stay with us, it is towards evening and far on in the day.’ The dark night of our soul when God seems to hide from us when ‘He disappears from our sight’ when only our faith is sought and faith is all we have, it is then that shards of joy and light appear and realization that Jesus is always with us but only ‘through a glass darkly’ until we share His glory.

Luke has given us a beautiful story and we can be forever grateful that he has recorded it for us as one of the resurrection stories.   

Margaret Cullen is a writer who is a member of St Colman’s parish Coromandel NZ.



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