We are now in week 7 of the Stay at Home Order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is getting more difficult to live like this. Over the weekend the numbers of people testing positive and people dying in California rose. We need to stay the course and stay at home. That is hard to hear.
In yesterday's Gospel reading two of Jesus' disciples were walking the 7 mile trip to from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus had just been beaten, crucified, died and that morning had risen. Imagine how those disciples must have been feeling. Totally exhausted. Afraid for their lives. Full of grief. They were talking all about it with each other as they walked. Jesus joined them, but they didn't know it was Him. They talked with Him and listened to Him that whole 7 mile walk - probably around 3 hours. They found they really enjoyed talking with this Man and they invited Him to stay with them once they arrived. After recognizing it was Jesus when He blessed, broke and gave them the bread, it says He vanished. The exhaustion, fear and grief must have griped them again.
But then they did something that caused the hope of Jesus resurrection to fill them with excitement and joy - so much so that they immediately walked all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. What they did was tell each other how their hearts burned when Jesus was talking with them, telling them Scripture stories of the revelation of God's love culminating in His death and resurrection. They probably excitedly kept talking about how they felt in Jesus' presence on that road and couldn't wait to tell the others. Once they got back to Jerusalem the Gospel says they "recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread." (Luke 24:35)
So, on this long road of staying at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19 we need to talk with each other about what just happened. In the middle of Lent COVID-19 brought fear and anxiety and put the people of the world behind closed doors. On Good Friday the numbers of people dying topped 2 million worldwide. Exhaustion and fear fill us daily. Easter Sunday brought the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. Still exhausted and fearful, we found some joy in celebrating Easter. Now we are back on the long road. Let's tell each other the stories of when we have felt Jesus present with us or when we have recognized Him in our lives. Like those two disciples, we too will feel the hope, peace and love of Jesus overpower the fear and exhaustion.
Here is a story of mine for you. I was planning a family retreat 6 years ago and after I had written the outline, something was missing. I prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to guide me to what was missing. I found this video. Today I am feeling terrible on this long road of staying home. I am lonely. My body aches from being stuck here not able to workout like I need to. I may be a bit depressed. This morning I prayed, asking Jesus to help me. The memory of this video popped in my head. I recognize Jesus with me on this long road today! I share it with you.