I don’t know the origin of the story but from two different priests the story of Regina Riley. Regina Riley’s story many parents can relate to. Then one Sunday morning she got the surprise of her life. Her two sons came in and sat across the aisle from her. Her heart was bursting with joy and gratitude. Afterward, she asked her sons what brought them back to Church. And then her younger son told the story.
One Sunday morning, while vacationing in Colorado, they were driving down a country road and it was raining cats and dogs. And then suddenly they came upon this old man, trudging through the rain with no umbrella, he was soaking wet. And he walked with a noticeable limp. Yet he kept walking on down the road. The brothers stopped to pick him up.
It turned out that he was on his way to Sunday Mass and the Church was 3 miles down the road. So the two brothers picked him up and drove him to the Church. And since the rain was coming down so hard and they had nothing better to do they decided to wait for him and take him back after Mass. Then the two brothers decided they might as well go inside rather than wait outside.
As they listened to the Sunday readings and sat through the Eucharistic prayers and Holy Communion something happened to both of them, something moved them deeply. They told their mother it was like coming home after a long, tiring trip.
This story is very much like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and meeting up with a stranger, who was Jesus.
If we look at the Emmaus story closely, we can find similarity with Mass? They were thrilled to follow Jesus. After the crucifixion, they are disappointed. Then they had heard a rumor that he had raised, but that didn't seem reasonable.
There is a couple of remarkable points in Emmaus' story. These two disciples had their own stories of good times and bad times. Jesus walked with them explaining the scripture and stayed with and breaks the bread. Later they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" The disciples did not realize at the time that their hearts were burning within them, it was only later they realized this.
Another beautiful aspect of the Emmaus story is that Jesus’ whole life is present at that breaking of the bread. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, Jesus did break the bread and gave to them and said, “This is my Body.” But the completion of that sacrifice took place the next day at the Calvary. But at Emmaus, when Jesus shared the scripture with them, the sacrifice is already completed.
Every Mass we gather with our stories of success, joyful moments, and disappointment. We listen to the word of God and offer ourselves at the Mass. Through the scriptures and breaking of the bread, Jesus nourishes us and sends us back to our normal life. The two disciples encountered Jesus at the breaking of the bread in a personal way. The question, do we encounter him?
Now we have to keep social distancing for our safety, but do we take to find time to participate in Mass online or TV and receive him spiritually? This is the time we will be tested in our faith.
When Jesus was sharing the scripture with them, there were burning within them. When Jesus took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Let us ask God to give us all an Emmaus experience in our celebration of the Eucharist.