How was it that two disciples could walk with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and not recognise Him?

I knew Bernie when I lived in West Cork. As busy mums we would grab quick chats after Mass at the parish church. She loved the Lord and was always infectiously cheerful which was an inspiration for me because I could see that she was not really well.

A couple of years after we moved to Cork City,  my sister and I attended a talk in the Imperial Hotel. As we gathered at the long table for tea at the break, a stranger smiled at us familiarly. I returned the smile. A minute later when she came in sight again she indicated she would come around the table for a chat. I quickly asked my sister who the woman was – she didn’t know, but had hoped I did – as the lady clearly knew us well. We made small talk until she mentioned a mutual friend. We then realised that the beautiful, vibrant lady before us had to be Bernie. Doctors had finally diagnosed her condition and with diet and therapy she was healthy for the first time in her life. She was transformed.

Until then I had always been puzzled at why Mary Magdalene did not recognise Jesus after the Resurrection but mistook him for a gardener. How was it that two disciples could walk with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and not recognise Him? After seeing Bernie, it didn’t seem so strange. If going from sickness to health could so transform not just Bernie’s appearance but also her voice, what transformation would have been wrought in Jesus by His resurrection. How different would His body be glorified no longer marked by the toil of His public life and suffering of His passion.

And here is the challenge for us; to recognise Jesus. St. Mary Magdalene recognised Jesus when He called her name. The two disciples on the Road to Emmaus only “recognise Him in the breaking of bread”. They knew Him only as He disappeared to their physical sight leaving Himself present in the consecrated bread and wine before them at the table. Recognising Jesus sent Mary Magdalene and the disciples rushing to share the Good News. When we recognise Jesus calling to us in the Holy Eucharist we too will rush out from Mass and from Eucharistic Adoration to share the Good News.

By Kathy Sinnott