That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Opening Prayer: O God, who gladden us year by year with the solemnity of the
Lord’s Resurrection, graciously grant that, by celebrating these present festivities, we may merit through them to reach eternal joys. Through Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
In this final chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we have this beautiful story about two men, distraught over the death of Jesus, who find themselves in deep conversation with the Teacher Himself — only they don’t realize it is Him. This lack of recognition is not necessarily their fault. Luke tells us, “Their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” It occurs days after Christ’s crucifixion, the same day the women brought spices to Jesus’ tomb and found the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body nowhere to be found.
Understanding Salvation History:
Jesus proceeds to explain the Old Testament stories, from Moses to the prophets, and how they all fully and completely point to the Christ.
The men still do not realize they are speaking with Jesus, but they eagerly welcome this conversation. When they get to Emmaus, they invite their companion to stay with them instead of continuing on in his journey, and Jesus agrees.
He was surprised at their lack of belief and perhaps at their knowledge of the Scriptures: “How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” Later, when he appeared in the Upper Room, he did the same thing for his Apostles. He opened their minds to understand his words: “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44). These Old Testament accounts are meant to be read through the lens of salvation history. Jesus is truly present in his word, both the Old and New Testaments. If we ignore the Old Testament, we are ignoring a huge part of the word of Christ.
Called to Communion: These two disciples were journeying to Emmaus, away from the rest of the disciples. They were “downcast” and disappointed at the death of Jesus. But, as a Good Shepherd, Jesus called them back to the fold with his physical presence on that Easter Sunday. In the same way, when Catholics fall away from their communities in the Church, Jesus calls them back with his physical presence in the Eucharist. Many Catholics who return “home” to the faith say that they missed receiving Holy Communion. Jesus extends a special grace on the day of his Resurrection, calling lax Catholics and even interested and open-minded non-Catholics to come to him. This thought might help us feel more charitable about the crowd. Whether they were there before Easter or will come back next week, they were called to Mass on Easter Sunday and they answered that call. We can pray for all those who felt called to Communion on Easter, that they might come back this Sunday and the next.
Remain in Him: Jesus revealed himself to them in the Eucharist. The disciples’ eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread. Ask yourself do I truly recognize Jesus as his real presence in the Eucharist? There is, with some, confusion about this teaching, yet Jesus told us plainly, without a parable, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:55-56). Notice here, that the two disciples wanted Jesus to remain with them, asking, “Stay with us.” He agreed and then gave them Holy Communion. This is how we are to “remain” in him: by receiving the Eucharist worthily and frequently and by adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament. May Catholics everywhere appreciate the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist!
Conversing with Christ:
Jesus does not reveal Himself to the men while they are on the road. Instead, He waits until they have arrived at their destination and are relaxed, preparing to enjoy a meal, before He allows the men’s eyes to be opened.
Many scholars believe this parallels the discernment process for many of us. Sometimes, when we do not fully understand something, we gather information.
Then it must settle within our hearts. Only when we have totally “digested” what we’ve learned, and allow it to sink in, does the truth come out.
These men do not seem extraordinarily surprised when they finally realize it had been Jesus the whole time. As they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Closing Prayer: Thank you for imbuing the Eucharist with your divine essence and for dwelling physically inside of me. May I never neglect your Presence, but instead, receive you with Thanksgiving and joy.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace we will pray for your holy presence to be recognized and adored in the Eucharist. Each of us will make a visit to adore Jesus in the Eucharist and plan to make a special trip this week.