Today I went to a beautiful town called Abu Ghosh. This is one of the areas that scripture scholars think is Emmaus. There are actually four sites that could be Emmaus. This is the town that most people come to see. There are two churches here. One is called Notre Dame de Alliance and the other is the Crusader church. Both are quite interesting.
The Notre Dame Church's claim to fame is that this is the site where the Ark of the Covenant rested before being taken into Jerusalem by King David in triumphal procession. It rested here during the reigns of King Samuel and King Saul. It was here anywhere from 20 to 80 years. The Ark (the Ten Commandments) was lost from the temple during the Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem 2600 years ago. The site is dedicated to Mary because she was the "Ark (or the carrier) of the New Covenant, Jesus.
The Crusader church was built in the 1100s. It ihas wonderful acoustics because it is all stone. This church celebrates the Emmaus story. The account of the two disciples who were walking away from Jerusalem very disappointed because Christ died. They had lost all hope. When Christ came near them, they did not recognize him. Christ went on to help them understand all the Scriptures. They wanted him to stay but Jesus said he had to go on his Way. They persuaded him to stay with them at least to share a meal. They finally recognized Christ when he broke the Bread with them.
Since this area was the second place where Christ shared the Eucharist, I had mass here at an outdoor altar by the Notre Dame Church overlooking Jerusalem for all of you.
It really doesn't matter in what town is the Emmaus town, because it is all a state of mind. We all have our "Emmaus" moments in our lives. Where we all might have given up hope in ourselves, family or friends. That's when someone comes to us and helps us in our need. Gets us out of our doldrums. We might not recognize Christ but Christ is present to us in those times. Just like the disciples walking along did not recognize Christ, we are like them. Many times we think of those two disciples as two men walking home. But most people here think that it was a couple, a man and a woman. So when you feel lost, confused are depressed pick up a Bible and read the Emmaus story and let your hearts be filled with the Fire of the Holy Spirit.