Emmaus Name and Logo

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The Emmaus Story is found in the Gospel of Mark, Ch. 16, 12-13, and more fully in the Gospel of Luke, Ch. 24, 13-35. It recounts the story of two of Jesus’ disciples, who had left Jerusalem on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection, to return to their home village of Emmaus. Along the way, they were “conversing about all the things that had occurred.”

We can imagine them as deeply distraught. All of their hopes and dreams, all of their expectations for the future had disappeared in an instant with the unexpected death of the one that they loved so deeply. They were probably still in shock, possibly in deep anger and pain over the event they had witnessed.

Then they had received some confounding news: “Some women of our group, however, have astounded us; they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.”

What could this mean? Dare they hope that it was true? Could they hope to see him again? Wouldn’t it be better to ignore such obvious nonsense and not be called a fool or have their hopes dashed again when it proved to be a fairy tale?

Then a complete stranger joined them on the road. He entered into their conversation, listening to their pain and confusion, and then gave them his insights. Their “hearts (were) burning … while he spoke to us on the way.

Was there indeed a reason to have faith, to have hope that death was not final… that there was victory in an eternal life? When they got to Emmaus, they begged the stranger to stay longer with them. He agreed, and they sat down to eat. At supper, the stranger took bread, blessed and broke it, and their eyes were opened to recognize that it was Jesus, their friend, who had walked and talked and comforted them on the road!

What rich symbolism there is in this story for those of us who have lost a child and are on our own painful journey to make sense of the loss of our children, to keep alive that glimmer of hope that we will hug them again, and to restore our faith that the message of Jesus is true. In The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents, we all journey this road together, with our God, with members of our retreat teams, and with each other as companions.