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The appearance on the road to Emmaus

Gospel Reading: Lk 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 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?” …

“What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene… 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… 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. …

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. … 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.

Aristotle once wrote, “Recognition is, as its name indicates, a change from ignorance to knowledge… which arises from the actions alone.” Jesus opens the Scriptures (v 27), the disciples’ eyes (v 31), and later their minds. His explanation of the Scriptures from Moses to all the prophets prepares the disciples for the breaking of the bread. It is at the breaking of the bread that they recognize Jesus as the risen Lord. The liturgical nuance of the story shows that every meal can become a sacred occasion for table fellowship and hospitality.

Jesus’ act of walking on, giving the impression that he is going on farther (v 28), demonstrates that he does not force himself upon us. We have to invite him to come and join us. The Holy Eucharist is an example of the Lord’s continued presence among us.

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