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On the first day of the week two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Many of us will be familiar with the ancient Greek word: Eureka. It means ‘I have found it’, and is closely associated with the experience-based techniques of problem-solving, learning and discovery. The exclamation Eureka! is attributed to the Greek scholar Archimedes who, it is reported, proclaimed, Eureka! Eureka! after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he suddenly understood much about the relationship between the volume of his body and the volume of the displaced water.
That Eureka! moment is one that we all experience from time to time. There will have been times when our school teachers’ explanations of some theory or the other suddenly made sense and a metaphorical light bulb turned on in our heads. There will have been times when the solution of some mystery or the other was suddenly revealed to us, and that light bulb turned on again. Many of us treasure those Eureka! moments, even when they are far less momentous than that experienced by Archimedes all those centuries ago.
In today’s reading we hear of two followers of Jesus who experienced their own life-changing Eureka! moment. Following the crucifixion they were travelling back to their home in Emmaus, a walk of about seven miles. As they journeyed they were met by a stranger who sought to console them in their grief. As they arrived at a crossroads in their journey, they invited the stranger to dine with them. It was at that meal that the moment came … their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Jesus is always walking with us, no matter where we are in our earthly pilgrimage. Jesus is always ready to reveal the truth to us, if only we will give him the time and the attention. Jesus chooses to come alongside as we travel through the ups and downs of daily life. It is for us to recognize his presence and to allow him to console, feed and nurture us as we journey on in his name.
Let us pray that we might recognize the Christ who draws near and walks with us through every moment of every day. Let us pray that we might open our hearts and minds to his message of resurrection light and joy. Let us pray that we might never hesitate to share that Good News as our hearts burn within us.