Gospel – Luke 24:13-35
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 bread.
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Expect the unexpected.
Two friends, walking and conversing, struggling to make sense of what they just witnessed over the past three days. Their hope in Jesus as their redeemer dashed, buried in that tomb along with the body of Jesus after He was arrested in secret and then crucified quite publicly. It is interesting to note the irony in Cleopas’ response to Jesus’ initial question. When Jesus asks them what they are talking about, Cleopas exclaims, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” Cleopas is astonished at the ignorance of this stranger he does not yet recognize. However, the reader of Luke’s Gospel is quite aware that it is “Jesus himself who drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” The stranger is not the ignorant one, but the Author of Truth Himself. We can certainly reflect on what may have prevented these two men from truly seeing who this stranger was. Perhaps it was the immense grief they were experiencing after losing their beloved teacher, or their confusion and dashed hopes that blinded them from seeing God in their very midst. Whatever the reason or reasons, the reading also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what may be preventing us from recognizing Jesus in our lives. Most of us have encountered some form of grief after the loss of a loved one which can make it difficult to see God at work in our lives, perhaps even causing us to question and doubt God’s ability or willingness to help see us through. Even the day-to-day stressors that come with being a human being as we strive to fulfill one’s responsibilities as a parent, a spouse, a friend, an educator, can be obstacles to recognizing Jesus in our midst. Now this particular story offers us so many lessons. When Jesus opens the scriptures and sets their hearts on fire before revealing Himself in the breaking of the bread, He reminds us that He is offering us the same graces every week at Mass if we are open enough to recognize Him there.
I see this reading as a reminder and as a challenge. Jesus is reminding me that I do not walk this road of life alone. Not only do I have spiritual companions with whom I can share my faith life, both my struggles and my hopes, but where two or three are gathered, Jesus is there as well! I once heard a simple but profound prayer offered that has stuck with me to this very day: “Jesus help me to be your reflection to everyone I encounter today, and help me to see your reflection in everyone I encounter today.” We are all on our own road to Emmaus each day. Lord, help us all to see you in the everyday moments we share with colleagues and students alike. In our hallway greetings, in our lunchtime conversations, in our classroom discussions and lessons, in our students who inspire us, and in our students in need of inspiration. Set our hearts on fire that we may not submit to the temptation to discouragement or despair. Help us to cultivate a childlike wonder and to expect the unexpected: a God who reveals Himself to us as a messiah in a manger, a “criminal” on a cross, in an empty tomb, and as a stranger on the road.
Mr. Anthony Russo
La Salle Academy – Providence, RI
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.