Part I: Preamble
In 1965, I was faced with a challenging decision. In 1964, I had successfully completed my Senior exams at Downlands College, Toowoomba, and I found myself looking at two life choices, viz., whether to enrol in an Arts/Law degree at the University of Queensland, or to join an Order of priests and brothers to train as a missionary and to work among the poor and the powerless in one of the 55 countries around the globe in which the Order was involved. I chose the latter.
Two disciples leave Jerusalem on a seven-mile journey to the village of Emmaus. Their demeanour is downcast as they reflect on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in whom they had placed such faith and hope until his untimely, brutal death snatched him from them. On their journey they are joined by a third person who responds to their confusion and despondency by contextualising the life and death of Jesus in the spread of salvation history.
As the three draw near to Emmaus, the stranger prepares to move on, but the two companions press him to stay and share an evening meal. During the meal, ‘he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and handed it to them’. Immediately their eyes were opened and they recognised him. Then Jesus vanished from their sight.
The two disciples immediately abandon their journey and return to Jerusalem—the location of Christ’s life, death and resurrection—where they joyfully share with Peter and the disciples the story of what happened on the road and how they recognised Jesus ‘in the breaking of the bread’.
In other words, the disciples return to the heart of the matter–to the place where life, death and resurrection intersect and hope and transformation blossom.
Heart of Life’s Emmaus Supervision Program draws directly on this encounter.