We return again to the reading of the Road to Emmaus pericope that we heard less than two weeks ago. This rich record is certainly worth many readings because there is within its telling so much contained in its depths that one, two, or three readings is nowhere near sufficient.
Jesus comes upon Cleopas and another disciple heading away from Jerusalem feeling devastated because not only had their teacher been brutally crucified but their hopes of him truly being the Messiah were also dashed.
During their discussion, an interesting point arises when they begin to discuss why they were leaving Jerusalem. Cleopas mentions that some women and some of the other disciples had confirmed that the tomb was empty on the third day since the death of Jesus. Cleopas and the other disciple were certainly close enough to the inner circle of the Apostles to know Mary Magdalene and the Twelve to be in hiding with them after the crucifixion.
This also meant that they knew Jesus pretty well. They had to have heard on more than one occasion either from Jesus himself or the other Apostles that Jesus would rise again on the third day. Why then did they leave after hearing the tomb was empty? Wouldn’t they want to find out if what Jesus said about his Resurrection was actually true? Last week we read about how Thomas was away when Jesus reappears to the Apostles. Did he leave with Cleopas and the other disciple, could Thomas have been the other disciple?
There were those like Mary, Peter, and John who stayed in Jerusalem, while at the same time we know about Thomas, Cleopas, and another disciple who had left, even after hearing about the empty tomb. Jesus was clear in what he taught about his coming back on the third day, just as he was when he told his followers that they would eat his flesh and drink his blood. People left then as well.
How many times have we given up or given in just when what we had been waiting for or working for would have been fulfilled? We may never know. Fortunately, for Cleopas and the other disciple that we read about this week and Thomas last week, Jesus was willing to reach out to them a second time. They heard his words about the Resurrection but they did not grasp or comprehend the full meaning of what Jesus meant.
The same is often true of us. Jesus invites us to follow him as he did the others, as he does with all of humanity, yet we often do not understand or fully appreciate the fullness of what Jesus is offering. Until we are able to relate to and value the deeper meaning and worth of what it means to truly develop a relationship with Jesus and be a follower of his, we will not be willing to invest our time and commitment. The Good News is that Jesus did not give up on Thomas or Cleopas nor will he give up on us. One day we too will also be able to exclaim with joy, “The Lord has truly been raised,” and our life we never be the same.