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The Emmaus story — Third Sunday of Easter — homily by Father Norman Carroll, pastor, St. Elizabeth, Wilmington

"The Road to Emmaus" (CNS logo/courtesy Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization)

By Father Norm Carroll,
pastor at St. Elizabeth and vocation director, Diocese of Wilmington

The Gospel of Luke today offers us the story of two of the disciples on the way to Emmaus where they encountered Jesus. The point of the story is that they didn’t recognize that the man they encountered was in fact Jesus. The story ends with Jesus sitting down at a table with them and in the breaking of the bread, their eyes are opened, and they see. They see that it is Jesus. And then He vanishes.

Father Norman P. Carroll
Father Norman Carroll

There is so much here in this story. This time let’s look into the invitation that Jesus gives the two disciples. He asks them to give Him an account of the things that have taken place in Jerusalem. He wants their Gospel story. He wants to hear about it in their own words. Perhaps part of them not recognizing Him was because of how much they were caught up in the story. After they do recognize Him they respond: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures for us.” They recognize that they were so on fire that they did not see the originating light in front of them.

That means a few things for us disciples today.

  1. Do we get so caught up in the drama that we miss the lead voice and the heart of the story?
  2. Do we preach Jesus or our own fascination with Him?
  3. How can we be sure we see Jesus?

I try, after pulling my homily thoughts together, and after preaching it, to ask myself some simple questions: Am I, did I preach Jesus? Did I consciously use His name or leave it to assumption? How many times did I say it? Did the people hear me say it? We can all tell a great story that inspires but we will find ourselves like those disciples on the road if we don’t find Jesus in the story of our Gospel account and Good News.

Here’s how we keep ourselves in check:

This Gospel story has encouraged Emmaus walks which are about pairing up with someone to talk about how the Gospel story of Jesus has had an impact on you. Can I talk about Jesus? Can I start with scripture and that first Easter and talk about what it did and does for me?

Try to connect with someone this week by phone, screen or that walk around your neighborhood and invite them on an Emmaus walk. Talk to one another about how the Easter story has had an impact on you. How has the Risen One lifted you up?


The Acts of the Apostles today and the 1st Letter from Peter tells us about the confidence that we should have in this story of the Paschal Mystery. There were firsthand witnesses to the first Eucharist, His death and the resurrection of Jesus. From the very beginning the story of Jesus was meant to impact and teach ALL of us. How is His story your story? Talk it out. Create your ‘elevator speech’. In the example of today’s story: Walk with it. Walk it out with a listener. Above all make sure Jesus hears it. He wants to know how His story has impacted you and how you are caught up in the excitement of the news.