A little girl was on her first trip on an airplane, and she was put into a seat between her mother and father. Her mom assured her that Jesus would watch over her during the flight.
As the plane took off, the girl became alarmed and closed her eyes tightly and called out softly: "Mom, are you there?"
“Yes dear,” her mother replied.
A little later, the child called in a louder voice: “Daddy, are you also there?”
“Yes”, was the reply.
After this had been repeated several times, one of the passengers lost patience and shouted: “We’re all here. Your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters and cousins, your uncles and aunts – all are here. Now go to sleep!”
There was silence for a while. Then, in a hushed voice, the child asked: "Mom, was that the risen Jesus traveling with us?”
Mom, was that the risen Jesus traveling with us?
This innocent question highlights a deeper truth about recognizing Jesus in our midst. Like the little girl, we can sometimes miss the presence of Jesus in the people and moments around us.
We may be so caught up in our own worries and concerns that we fail to see the ways in which Jesus is present in our everyday lives.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus also failed to recognize the stranger walking with them as the Risen Jesus himself. When Jesus revealed himself to them, their eyes were opened and they were transformed.
We, too, can have our own Emmaus moments when we open ourselves to the presence of Jesus in our lives. It may be in a conversation with a stranger, a moment of quiet reflection, or in the beauty of nature.
It may even be in the struggles and challenges we face, when we turn to God in prayer and find comfort and strength.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus failed to recognize Jesus but eventually did so when he explained the scriptures to them and when he broke and shared bread with them.
He still reveals himself the same way today. As Catholics, we believe that we meet the Risen Jesus in the Scriptures, in the community of believers, and in the sacraments, especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Every Easter season is a time for us to rediscover the joy and wonder of encountering Christ by seeking out opportunities to encounter Him in new and meaningful ways.
It begins by opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to guide us in our journey of faith.
Is the Risen Jesus traveling with us?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes!
We will know that he is traveling with us when we have found comfort and strength by turning to God in prayer during times of challenges and struggles, when we pray with others, when we come to mass with a hunger that can only be fed by the Risen Jesus himself.
May we be filled with joy and excitement at the ways in which Christ is present in our lives, and may we share this Good News with others. Amen.