A Journey with Jesus: Emmaus and Pandemics

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on April 29, 2020

in Blogs

When I visited the Holy Land, our first stop was “Emmaus,” where we were told no one knows where Emmaus really is. This was confirmed when a friend emailed me that his friend on a pilgrimage had a similar experience. His Franciscan guide asked, “Is there anything else you want to see?” The friend said, “Yes, I would like to walk the road to Emmaus.” The guide replied, “That we cannot do. You see, no one really knows for sure where that village actually was, so there is no road to Emmaus now.” But then the Franciscan added, “Maybe that’s part of God’s providence because now we can make every journey we undertake a walk down the road to Emmaus.”

Every road you walk down—whether on the smooth sidewalks of happy days or on the rough, gravel-strewn country roads of distressing days—Jesus is walking with you step by step. (Sister Mary Andrew liked the line in an old hymn “And He [Andy] walks with me.”)

God is always at your side. For one thing, God is omnipresent, present everywhere and at all times. Fifteenth-century German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa expressed this attribute geometrically: “God is he whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls God Most High (transcendent), yes, but also Most Near (immanent). (#2581) St. Paul preached, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). A little story offers a metaphor for God’s ubiquity: Little fish asks old fish, “Where is the thing called ocean?” Old fish replies, “It is the thing you are in now.” “But this is water,” said the little fish, disappointed, and he swam away to search elsewhere.

Scripture also attests to God’s all-encompassing presence:

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, [land of the dead], you are there.

If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7–10)

You could add your own verses: “If I have to work with so-and-so who drives me crazy, you are there.” “If I am being interviewed for a new position, you are there.” “If I or a loved one is diagnosed with COVID-19, you are there.”

Moses relied on God. When Pharoah’s army was pursuing the Hebrews, they called out to Moses in fright. He replied, “The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14:14). The words God spoke to Joshua, he speaks to you: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

There is not one second when God is not close at hand. In fact, God dwells in the depths of your being, his divine life (grace) filling your soul and his heart beating with yours. When you face challenges and meet up with crises, you can soldier on, trusting God to see you through. Let these words said to Israel, the chosen people, embolden you, who are God’s chosen one: I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 42:13)

When you realize you walk with God, from time to time you might practice what St. John of the Cross called “loving remembrance” of God present in the innermost labyrinth of your soul. Recall that the God who created you is loving and caring for you there.

• When have you experienced God walking with you? Did you achieve something you knew you couldn’t do alone? Were you at peace in the midst of a trying situation?

Click on the link here for a lovely version of the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”


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