This slow revelation of Jesus to his disciples shows us two very important things about Jesus’ self revelation to us followers: Jesus is revealed slowly over time and Jesus reveals himself in multiple ways.
Many of us, especially in our modern fast paced life, want things to happen quickly. We are conditioned, since early childhood, that things will happen quickly. You touch a light switch and you instantly have light. You run a google search and you immediately have knowledge on a topic. But not everything happens quickly. If you want to cook pasta, you need to wait for water to boil; which takes time. If you want to perfect a trade or a hobby, you need to take time to grow in the activity. If you want to make new friends, you need to invest time in a relationship. A friendship doesn't, at least usually, happen overnight. Everyone remembers their first time at the high school cafeteria, at the college dorm, at the office break room, etc. Most of us did not know people, or at least a lot of people, when we first arrived at a place. To build these relationships, we needed to invest time in them. We need to continue to talk to them, to get to know them, to do things with them. Eventually, we would know people, and have friends, at school, in college, at the office, etc.
The same is in our relationship with God. It is something that happens slowly over time. We need to invest time in that relationship. The more time and effort that we invest, the more we begin to grow in our relationship with God. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Just like our relationships with our human friends. The deeper our relationship gets with God, the more God reveals himself to us. God might be revealing himself to us immediately from the moment a relationship begins but we might not immediately recognize his self revelation. This is the case in our gospel. Jesus begins to reveal himself to his disciples from the moment that they begin journeying together but they do not recognize his self revelation because their relationship is just beginning. The disciples slow recognition of Jesus’ revelation of himself to them shows us two ways that he reveals himself to us.
We can learn from the scriptures how God reveals himself to us and we can begin to recognize, from that knowledge, how God has been revealed to us in our own lives.
He begins to reveal himself to us through Scripture. The scriptures, as we see in the gospel, are the story of God’s continual revelation of Himself to His disciples, His followers. If we want to build our relationship with God and to recognize how He is revealing Himself to us, the best place for us to turn to would be the scriptures. We can learn from the scriptures how God reveals himself to us and we can begin to recognize, from that knowledge, how God has been revealed to us in our own lives. One of the best places for us to start would be with the Gospel stories. In these stories, we see God’s direct interaction with humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can learn from those interactions and begin to look at our own lives to see how God interacts with us. I recommend reading the daily gospel passage and spend time reflecting on it. As you reflect upon the passage, ask yourself questions: ‘If I was in the story, which character would I be?’, ‘Why would I be that character?’, ‘Which question of Jesus do I find hard to answer? Why?’, ‘What is Jesus doing? Why would He do that?’, etc. These are a few examples of the kinds of questions that you could ask yourself; there is no wrong question, so ask yourself any question that comes into your head. This practice of spiritual reading, which is called Lectio Divina, is a way in which we can deepen our relationship with God and begin to understand in a deeper way how God is revealing himself to us.
The other way that He reveals himself to us is in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist. Today’s gospel is very clear that it wasn’t until the blessing and breaking of the bread - a direct acknowledgement to the words of consecration - that the disciples recognized the stranger. For the earliest followers, God would become revealed to them in Jesus’ Eucharistic presence. These early followers did not have tabernacles, the practice of Eucharistic reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, or the devotional practice of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament however, they still believed that Our Lord would be revealed to them when the words of consecration were prayed by the priest or bishop. We are blessed in our day to have the practice of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and the devotional practice of adoration in which we are able to spend time with Our Lord, who is revealed to us in the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament. I recommend taking some time in adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a beautiful spiritual practice of spending time with the one that we desire to have a relationship. If you have the time, do your spiritual reading of the gospels in our church during your adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
God is continuing to reveal Himself to us, just as He revealed himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. His revelation is slow. It will take time and effort but the more we put into that relationship with God, the more we will begin to recognize how he is revealing himself to us.