3 Discernment Lessons from the Road to Emmaus

Apr 3, 2024

The 3 D’s of Discernment are Desire, Disposition, and Decision. Many scripture passages provide insight into these stages in our own lives. Luke 24:13-35 is our Gospel reading for Wednesday in the Octave of Easter and describes the points of discernment in an encounter with the resurrected Christ.

We can often relate to the two disciples who wanted to understand the meaning of the suffering that they had just witnessed. There were many people, reports, and issues involved in the situation. There were many expectations and emotions to process. Jesus came along side of them to provide wisdom and direction for what was coming next.


Cleopas and his companion were associated with Jesus. As His disciples, they heard Jesus teach, sought to know Him, and were familiar with His family and other followers. While they hoped Jesus was the Messiah, none of the disciples understood what that truly meant. They had personal obstacles, as well as cultural misunderstandings, that interfered with their insight. Jesus calls them “slow of heart.”
This is the case for our discernment as well. Believing in Jesus and desiring to follow Him does not automatically make life’s events clear or help us to anticipate the future. We are often self-focused, concerned with our insecurities. But God’s picture for us resides securely within the whole of salvation history. We learn to trust His love and goodness for us as we grow in relationship with him. God’s presence is available to us in prayer, scripture, and the sacraments. As we give Him our time and attention on a daily basis, we can recognize His voice and respond to His invitations.


The disciples were open to the mystery of God’s plan amidst their inability to understand it. Even with restless hearts, the disciples were focused on their relationship with Jesus, which enabled Him to join them. Our Catholic friends and mentors will reflect Jesus’ love and presence especially when we feel that He is not with us. They help us to express our hopes and fears in the context of God’s grace. A spiritual director can help point out areas of blindness and guide us in love.


As Jesus met the disciples and taught them God’s plan for redemption in the scriptures, their hearts burned upon hearing the truth. Christ gave them peace and courage. When they recognized Him, they immediately returned to the other disciples in Jerusalem. In the same way, Jesus gives us His word and grace through the Church to support and inspire us. Over time we develop habits and virtues to go where He goes.
Through the celebration of Easter, we see that God’s ways are not what we expect. He is able to use the mess of life to accomplish our salvation. Jesus is alive and present to us every time that we gather in His name. Keeping a focus on Christ will allow Him to come close and teach us. As we walk with Jesus, we can see Him more clearly and adjust our course to follow Him.

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