Grace to you!
Visualize the two on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). Namely, Cleopas and the other disciple whose name the Bible did not mention. The Lord Jesus, unrecognized, joins in the conversation.
The Lord Jesus had given explicit instruction to the disciples to go to Galilee. He told them that they would see him there (Mt 28:7; Mk 16:7). The women had reported the good news to the disciples early on Easter morning as well. Similarly, the Bible is clear. The two main places Jesus met with some or many of the disciples were in Jerusalem (probably the first days), and then in Galilee, as he had instructed.
Yet the two disciples on the way to Emmaus chose to go in the opposite direction away from Jerusalem. If one were to use Josephus' opinion of the exact location of Emmaus as evidence, it means the two men headed at least six to seven miles west. Thus, undoubtedly, the two weren't going in the direction of Galilee either. Neither were they staying in Jerusalem where the rest of the disciples were. It was an outright disregard of the Lord's instruction, which suggests they hardly believed him after the crucifixion.
As they leave, they start a conversation, revealing the hidden depressing thoughts locked in their mind. They seem to have been utterly disappointed by Jesus' death, as the apostles were. The tone of their conversation is revealing of their state of mind. They talked about Jesus using his human, biological name alone—Jesus of Nazareth, without reference to his identity as Christ. They also describe him as "a prophet mighty in deed and word…" (Lk 24:19). Jesus wasn't merely 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 notice it was Jesus in their midst.
Many times, worries burden our hearts and seem to consume us. The result is that 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. Sometimes they prevent us from seeing that the Lord is here, walking with us, accompanying us. We are like the two on the way to Emmaus.
For instance, sometimes, during the Eucharistic celebration, we may not focus because our anxieties tend to consume us. Hardly do we remember the Lord 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" (Mt 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 a real understanding of our struggles and concerns. Hence Jesus started to unravel the riches of the Law and the Prophets to the two. He shows 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. I understand some have objections as to the meaning of the breaking of the bread in Luke 24:30-31. Saint Augustine's interpretation that it is about the Eucharist has come to be accepted by many biblical scholars as correct. I uphold that too. The mysteries of divine conversation are constantly unwrapped at the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. In this sacrament, we see with better clarity what has set our hearts on fire as we heard the Word in Scripture.
We recognize the Lord is here. Our hope, and the answer to our queries, is in our midst and within us. In and with him, the pains of disappointment are, after all, short-lived.
Praying that we may continue to encounter the Risen Lord in 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]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.