Truly Present

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.
(Luke 24:13-35)

Scripture Study

24:13 Emmaus: A Judean village of uncertain location (1 Mac 9:50).

24:18 Cleopas: Probably the same person as the one called “Clopas” in Jn 19:25. Early Christian tradition identifies him as the brother of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus (3:23), and the father of Simon/Simeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem.

24:19 mighty in deed and word: Moses is described in these terms in Acts 7:22. The implication is that Jesus is the awaited prophet-like-Moses announced in Deut 18:15 (Acts 3:22–23; 7:37). Jesus was often viewed as a prophet by his contemporaries (Lk 7:16; Mt 16:14; 21:46; Jn 6:14).

24:21 redeem Israel: The discouraged travelers had hoped that Jesus would reign as king in Jerusalem and rescue their nation from Roman oppression (19:11; Mk 11:10; Acts 1:6). Their expectations are out of step with God’s plan to free Israel from sin and death, not from political subjugation (Mt 1:21; Jn 1:29; CCC 439).

24:27 all the Scriptures: Jesus gives an overview of salvation history from the OT. His entire life was foreordained in Scripture, including his birth (Mt 1:23; 2:6), ministry (4:18–19), death (20:17; Acts 8:32–33), and Resurrection (Mt 12:40; Acts 2:24–28) (CCC 601, 652).

24:30 took … blessed … broke … gave: A sequence of actions recalling the Last Supper accounts (22:19; Mt 26:26). Here the disciples encounter Christ in a spiritual way, discerning his presence in the meal (24:35). ● The structure of the Emmaus episode reflects the structure of the Eucharistic liturgy, where Jesus gives himself to the Church in word and sacrament, in the proclamation of Scripture (24:27) and in the Eucharistic Bread of Life (24:30, 35) (CCC 1346–47).

24:35 breaking of the bread: Among Jews this was a ceremonial gesture that commenced the celebration of an ordinary meal. Among Christians it was used as a description of the Eucharistic liturgy (Acts 2:42; 20:7; CCC 1329).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus enlightens the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have you ever tried to solve a puzzle and then were surprised when the various pieces suddenly fell into place? Well, this is what happens to these disciples as Jesus begins to speak: “How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have announced! Did not the Messiah have to undergo all this so as to enter into his glory?” The whole of Christianity is hanging here in the balance.

The disciples didn’t get it at first. They didn’t get the Secret. The Mystery. The key. The pattern. And what was that? God’s self-emptying love, yes even unto death. God’s act of taking upon himself the sins of the world in order to take them away, the Mystery of redemption through suffering.

Jesus explains this first, with reference to the prophets; but then, he makes it as vividly present to them as he can: “He took the bread, pronounced the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them.” And that’s when the piece fell into place–that’s when the puzzle was solved. The Eucharist made present this love unto death, this love that is more powerful than sin and death. The Eucharist is the key.

-Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.