Though each of us is ultimately responsible for our individual Spiritual Journey, just like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), we all need to share that Journey. The Spiritual Journey requires the companionship of others as well as guidance along the way. In this reading, it was the risen Jesus who provided that guidance to the confused disciples. Their searching together fulfilled the Gospel promise that when two or three are gathered in His name, Christ is also in (their) midst.(Matthew 18:20). The reading ends by emphasizing the significance of community. It was in the disciple's invitation to risen Jesus and his sharing and breaking of bread, the most fundamental of communal activities, that Jesus was finally recognized. In my own life, I often find that fundamental community expressions of loving and sharing most often cause me to experience God's love and being open enough to recognize Christ in others.
An important point made in this passage is the necessity of opening our heart in Spiritual matters. We often rely on our cognitive abilities to get us through life and so find it natural to try to apply our thinking skills to make sense of God's ways. On the Road to Emmaus the two disciples are "conversing and debating" in order to make sense of all they experienced in Jesus life, death and afterwards. After joining them and allowing them to speak their minds, Jesus criticizes the disciples by saying "How slow of heart to believe". Even though Jesus shared in their discussions by interpreting the Word of God (Scripture) to them as they walked, he doesn't appear to be trying to impart knowledge as much as to touch and open their hearts. Once they recognized the risen Jesus, the disciples said to each other "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened scriptures to us?" A careful reading of the Greatest Commandment in all the synoptic gospels (Matthew 22:36-40,Mark 12:28-31,Luke 10:25-28) also illustrates the importance of the heart when it comes to our relationship to God: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your (1) heart, with all your (2) being, with all your (3) strength, and with all your (4) mind". It strikes me as important that Jesus instructed us that loving God starts from the heart, then all other facets of ourselves and lastly with our mind. This is a significant reminder for me to put my heart first and my mind last when it comes to the ways of God. I am rarely able to deeply understand or make sense of Spiritual things in any other way.
Another point in this Gospel reading is how remarkable and natural the human tendency is to equate Spiritual reality with material/worldly expectations. As the disciples stated in the Gospel reading: "But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel." These disciples were looking to equate a human salvation (from Roman oppression) to a Spiritual one (the ushering in of the Kingdom of God). How many times do we ask God to satisfy our human or material desires, which may be important in many circumstances, but without an awareness of our Spiritual needs. If we solely focus our attention on worldly concerns, our awareness closes down to Spiritual realities.
I find it notable that in this account, and many other accounts of Jesus after the resurrection, that he was not immediately recognizable. At times on our Spiritual Journey we are transformed by dying to our false selves (a part of our humanness is put aside) and a part of our True Self originally born in Christ is resurrected. This is our personal death and resurrection experience of which St Paul also writes in Galatians 2:19-20 "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me." Each time we experience this process of transformation that is awakening to our True Selves, we are less recognizable in comparison to our previous selves.
Finally, after their encounter with Christ the disciples forget their worldly concerns and immediately head back to Jerusalem to share the news with others. When we truly experience God, our worldly concerns become much less important; we find ourselves compelled to share our joy with others.