April 10, 2005 - Year A - Easter 3
• 13 That same day, two of them were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they talked about what had happened. 15 While they were talking and wondering, Jesus came up and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were held and they did not recognize him.
17 He asked, “What is this you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems you are the only traveller in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened there these past few days.” 19 And he asked, “What is it?”
They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, you know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. 20 But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced him to death. They handed him over to be crucified. 21 We had hoped that he would redeem Israel.
It is now the third day since all this took place. 22 It is true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, 23 they did not find his body; they came to tell us that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that Jesus was alive. 24 Some friends of our group went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
25 He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! You fail to believe the message of the prophets. 26 Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this and then enter his glory?” 27 Then starting with Moses and going through the prophets, he explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. 29 But they prevailed upon him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When they were at table, he took the bread, said a blessing, broke it and gave each a piece.
31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; but he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said to each other, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when he was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?”
33 They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were greeted by these words: “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the road and how Jesus made himself known when he broke bread with them.
= = =
• 13. We notice on this page of the Gospel how carefully Luke uses in turn the verbs: see and recognize. The evangelist, in fact, wishes to show us that after his resurrection Jesus can no longer be “seen” with the eyes of the body; he had gone from this world to the Father, and this new world evades our senses. It is only with new vision, this light of faith that we “recognize” him present and active in us and around us. If the history of the Church records a number of exceptional apparitions of the risen Jesus, the faithful are invited to “recognize” him through faith.
These two disciples were merely going home to return to their work, after their hopes had been crushed. We are accustomed to call them the pilgrims of Emmaus.
The Jewish people, the people of Israel, were pilgrim people because they never had the possibility of lingering on the way. The departure from Egypt, the conquest of the Land, the fights against invaders, the development of religious culture were many stages along the way. Each time they thought that in reaching their goal, their problems would be solved, and each time they had to realize that the road was taking them still further.
Cleophas and his companion were pilgrims since they followed Jesus, thinking that he would redeem Israel. In the end, there was only the death of Jesus. This is the moment when Jesus becomes present and teaches them that one does not enter the Kingdom without passing through death.
They recognized him (v. 31). Perhaps Jesus looked different as we see in John 20:14. This is what Mark says in 16:12. Luke also wants us to understand that the same people, whose eyes could not recognize Jesus, will see him when they come to believe.
Starting with Moses and going through the prophets (v. 27). Remember that “Moses and the prophets” is a way of designating Scripture. Jesus invites them to pass from Israel’s faith or hope in a happy future for the whole nation, to faith in his very person, accepting the mystery of his rejection and of his Passion.
Everything in Scripture concerning himself (v. 27). In his first biblical lesson, Jesus taught them that the Messiah had to suffer. Jesus not only found all the texts which foretold his Passion and Resurrection such as Is 50; Is 52:13; Zec 12:11; Ps 22; Ps 69; but also those texts showing that God’s plan filters human history.
Something similar happens to believers now when we often complain and show our impatience. Yet Jesus did not leave us alone. He has not risen in order to sit in heaven; he is ahead of humanity on pilgrimage and draws us toward that final day when he will come to meet us.
At the same time he walks with us, and when our hopes are dashed, it is the moment when we discover the meaning of the Resurrection.
Thus the Church does for us what Jesus did for the two disciples. First, it gives us the ‘interpretation of Scripture’: what matters in our efforts to understand the Bible is not to know many passages by heart, but to discover the thread connecting various events and to understand God’s plan concerning people.
Then, the Church also celebrates the Eucharist. Notice how Luke says: he took bread, said a blessing, broke it and gave it; these same four words were used among believers to speak of the Eucharist. We can come close to Jesus in conversation and meditating on his word; we find him present in our fraternal meetings, but he makes himself known in a different way when we share the bread that is his body.
Cleophas (v. 18): the husband of Mary, mother of James and Joset (see Jn 19:25 and Mk 15:40).
- - - - - - -
Comments by Wesley
1. Have you ever been so engrossed in a conversation (oftentimes it is with a lover or a political opponent) that your eyes have been riveted on each other to find that depth of joy or flaw in argument? If so you know about the folks going to Emmaus. They were talking and wondering. Oblivious.
2. Along comes a third party trying to explain why the other two are so in love or so at odds. Explanations hardly ever make it here. Just try to hold a premarital counseling session with folks with stars in their eyes or marriage crisis counseling session with folks with daggers in their eyes. Somehow an experience is needed, not more words. (You go, Eliza Doolittle!)
And so Jesus breaks off a piece of bread to bring our hungers and our healing back into view. May you be a breaker of bread in the eyes of an alternately overly-focused and distracted world.
3. Then comes the vanishing. When we are brought back to ourselves to see the other as they are instead of who we are and still to love them, we awaken to the realization that there is more to learn, to know and understand.
Now we can look back and find new meaning in what was meaningless and we can have the energy to go forward to share what we have learned without taking advantage of our information and setting up some so-called truth/think tank.
And, lo and behold, we are again thrust into the mystery that other already understands what took us the long way around to get to and to be in the midst of an on-going learning situation about life and more life and more life.
Sermon Index | wesleyspace Home