Recognizing Jesus with our Hearts-Emmaus

Blog Published: April 25, 2023
By Sister Rejane Cytacki, SCL
Gospel image-the Road to Emmaus

Praying with the Sisters—April 24, 2023
This reflection was shared during our Praying With The Sisters live-streamed prayer on Facebook. A Nun’s Life was joined by guests Sisters Jessi Beck, PBVM and Julia Walsh, FSPA.

(The video recording of our prayer can be found below the blog.)

Reflection on Luke: 24:13-35

Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

Seeing and recognizing are not the same thing.  This happens consistently in all the resurrection stories the disciples “see” Jesus but do not recognize him.

Richard Rohr (See foot note below) talks about it this way:

"Every resurrection story seems to strongly affirm an ambiguous—yet certain—presence in very ordinary settings, like walking on the road to Emmaus with a stranger. These moments from Scripture set a stage of expectation and desire that God’s presence can be seen in the ordinary and the material.  We Catholics call this a sacramental theology, where the visible and tactile are the primary doorway to the invisible."

We must remember that seeing is an observational skill but to recognize someone is from the heart and contains a deeper meaning.

I love how Jesus uses opened-ended questions when he first encounters the 2 disciples. "What are you discussing as you walk along?" and "What sort of things?"
as a counselor with the National suicide prevention lifeline. These are the sort of questions we are trained to ask our callers. Open-ended questions are a skill that a good listener must use- for the speaker to feel the freedom to speak about their life events and emotions.  The image of Jesus the Good Listener is a model for me here.


These 2 disciples needed to emotionally vent. We know why they are upset- Jesus did not fulfill their human expectations in being a Messiah because he died and now the disciples are having the disturbing signs of the sight of an empty tomb and talk of angels- somehow, they do not have closure and his death is now a question mark in their minds.

This uncomfortable emotional space is exactly what Jesus needs as a crack into our interior lives to visit us. At least, that has been my experience.

In the messiness of the disciples' lives, Jesus then shares and interprets scripture and then breaks bread with them- Here is our mass today:  Liturgy of the word through scripture and liturgy of the eucharist through the breaking of the bread are joined together.

This is what it took for the disciples to not only “see” Jesus but truly recognize him. With that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. This is where the visible and tactile are the primary doorway to the invisible.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Remember to recognize someone is from the heart and one of deeper meaning.  To see them with the eyes of the heart or the eye of faith allows for the deeper meaning to shine through. And so, upon reflection- they could recognize Jesus in the ordinary events of sharing of scripture stories and the breaking bread.

I think in our own lives we see the daily life events unfold around us but – when we take these to prayer and enter a dialogue and conversation with Jesus then we see with the eyes of faith and recognize that God’s hand is at work in our lives- in a way we could not have planned for ourselves.

One of those ways for me has been being at A Nun’s Life and having an enriching communal and personal life that I can authentically witness to our audience in our activities, blogs, podcasts, and posts that I what I am showing is true.   I could not have done this in other points of my life say Racine Wisconsin- I just was too busy.  or I could not have done this prior to 2021 because my relationship was not very deep with Jesus prior to that point. These parts of my life converged to give authentic witness to the world through my current ministry.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you had an encounter with Jesus in the messiness and confusion of your life? What was that like?

2.   When have you looked back over your life events and recognized God’s hand in them?


Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2021), 29–30, 33. 


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