Grace to you!
Visualize the two on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35); namely, Cleopas and the other disciple whose name was not mentioned. Jesus, unrecognized, joins in the conversation.
The Lord Jesus had given an explicit instruction for the disciples to go to Galilee where they will see him (Mt 28:7; Mk 16:7). “The women” had reported the good news to the disciples early on Easter morn as well. Similarly, the bible is clear—the two main places Jesus met with some or many of the disciples was in Jerusalem (probably the first days), and then in Galilee, as he had instructed.
Yet the two on the way to Emmaus chose to go in the opposite direction, heading at least six to seven miles west, away from Jerusalem (if I would take Josephus’ opinion of the exact location of Emmaus as my evidence). Thus, certainly, the two weren’t going in the direction of Galilee nor staying in Jerusalem where the rest of the disciples were lodged. This was an outright disregard of the Lord’s instruction, which suggests they hardly believed him after the crucifixion.
As they leave, they start off a conversation, revealing the hidden depressing thoughts locked in their mind. They seem to have been completely disappointed by Jesus’ death, as the apostles were. Not only did they describe Jesus with his human, biological name alone (Jesus of Nazareth) without reference to his identity as Christ, they called him “a prophet mighty in deed and word…” (Lk 24:19). Jesus wasn’t simply a prophet.
In their words, “We had hoped he [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel (24:21).” Observe the tenses used, denoting an obvious objection to who they thought Jesus was. They equally express tacit unbelief regarding the news from the women concerning the resurrection.
In this story, we see a summary of some doubts people have about Jesus’ identity. The two had similar doubts too, hence their frustration at his death.
Jesus, “the silent listener to every conversation,” joins them in the conversation. They couldn’t recognize him. I was wondering why they couldn’t recognize Jesus in their midst.
Many times, we are so consumed with worries we can hardly see Jesus or hear his word. Our doubts are so loud, they deafen the ears of faith. Our disappointments are so deep, they blur our spiritual perception. Our problems seem so overwhelming we can’t see the Lord is here, walking with us, accompanying us. We are like the two on the way to Emmaus.
For instance, sometimes, during Mass we may not focus because we are so consumed by our anxieties. Hardly do we remember Jesus beckoning us from the Eucharist saying the words of his apostle, Peter, to us: Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care about you (1 Pt 5;7). Or his own words: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mtt 11:28).
From the encounter between the two and Jesus, we learn at least two things: Good knowledge of Scripture opens our eyes to see the promises of the Lord, the prophecies. Walking by Divine Revelation is walking into true understanding of our struggles and concerns. Hence Jesus started to unravel the riches of the Law and the Prophets to the two, showing how they point to him as the Risen Lord, our hope and our joy.
Second, clarity about Divine Revelation is unpacked at the breaking of the bread. Though some have objections as to the meaning of the breaking of the bread in this text, Saint Augustine’s interpretation that it is in reference to the Eucharist has come to be accepted by many biblical scholars as correct. I uphold that too. The mysteries of divine conversation are constantly unpacked at the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. In this sacrament we see clearly what has set our hearts on fire as we hear the Word in Scripture.
We recognize truly the Lord is here, our hope and the answers to our queries. In and with him, the pains of disappointment are, after all, short-lived.
Praying that we may continue to encounter the Risen Lord through the Word and the Eucharist. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Third Sunday of Easter A Week 3: Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Pt 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.