It is Easter afternoon, and two of Jesus’ disciples were on their way to Emmaus, a little village just outside Jerusalem. Why? No one knows for sure. Was it home for one of them or both? Or was it just a place, some other place than the place they had been these last few days.
It is Easter afternoon and Jesus himself draws near the two who are on their way to Emmaus, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Why? No one knows for sure. Maybe the light was too bright. Maybe when your expectations are too much behind you cannot see ahead, or the side. When grief is too intense, maybe you don’t look up.
It is Easter afternoon and they do not recognize him, but for the next little while he walks with them and he talks with them and he interprets to them all the things in the the scriptures about himself. And then they get to the village and it appears he will leave them, will go on his way past Emmaus. Why? No one knows for sure. Maybe because now that Jesus is raised, resurrected, he is no longer bound to time or place or even previous relationships. He is free to go and do and form new friendships.
But then, when he about to go, they beg him to stay. They say, “The day is spent, the night is coming, please stay with us.” And so he does. Why? No one knows for sure, but maybe Jesus does not want his friends and followers to face the night alone.
When he was at the Table with them, Jesus took the bread, as he had taken it that Last night, and he broke the bread, and suddenly they remembered. They recognized. They rejoiced. And then he was gone again. Why? No one knows for sure, but this much is certain: Jesus is always on the move. Disciples have to follow him.
When Jesus leaves, so do they. They head back to Jerusalem to find the other disciples and tell them that Jesus had appeared to them in the breaking of bread. Being at the Table with Jesus began to bring them all together again.
The crucifixion was centrifugal for those whose loved Jesus. The force of his death dispersed them, drove them away from each other. But the Table was and remains centripetal for those who love and follow Jesus. The meal brings us together, keeps bringing us back together.