“[Jesus] took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened.” Luke 24
The disciples we meet on the Road to Emmaus in today’s Gospel were what we would call today “depressed”. They were also confused as they made their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that had occurred. Put yourself in their place. They could see but they could not see Jesus who was walking with them.
Imagine how they felt because they knew what they had just recently seen – a prophet mighty in word and deed. You are there. You know what you were hoping for – that Jesus would be the redeemer of Israel but you don’t see what to make of his violent death at the hands of your own people, the leaders of your own nation.
You don’t recognize Jesus as he draws near to walk with you. He seems like just another foreigner visiting for the Feast of Passover.
Note that Jesus doesn’t reveal the meaning of the Scriptures and his identity until after the disciples describe how the tomb was empty. They are puzzled as many are today about this claim. Unless Jesus reveals himself we see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death not the risen Lord.
How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to him and his mission as Messiah.
In today’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan” – foreknown before the foundation of the world. This plan includes the revelation of the meaning of his death so that people may see and experience him sacramentally and really. This experience of his presence and spiritual vision affect all areas of life – familial, communal and political.
Since God is not an empirical datum (something physical that we can touch and see), we see God by inference from the narrative of Jesus life, death and resurrection. As St. Paul poetically puts it: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” Romans 10:20
In other words, the things of God are revealed in and through events in the physical world – both past and present – but God is not in any way limited by time and space.
Patriarch Bartholomew (Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople) has said that history has proven that real progress cannot exist without God.
'Not one society can be truly progressive and happy if there is no freedom to walk the road with God. True freedom has been achieved through our walking with Jesus and understanding who God has sent him to be with us and for us.'
"The history of the 20th C. tragically confirms this truth. Humanity experienced a horror that originated from Central Europe and produced millions of victims during WWII and racial persecutions. At the same time, the world also experienced the horror that was sown by the so-called progressive forces of socialism, which committed crimes of equal magnitude and cruelty in Eastern Europe in the name of freedom."
Bartholomew continues: “Therefore, totalitarianism as an offspring of a humanity without Christ and its natural conclusion becomes destruction and death. All of the above confirm that every attempt to reach freedom without God shall be doomed to tragedy.”
We are not, then, as some of the current crop of reductive materialists would claim: just creatures with brains that run software. We are souls who are created to see the meaning behind physical reality, who can grasp the revelation that Christ is risen and really present to us.
Jesus is revealed in the Gospel as a new Moses leading his people to true and lasting freedom. He opens the Scriptures to reveal that he is the new and final Passover lamb.
Jesus is the One of whom David sang about in the Psalm – whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life and so he shows us the path of life, if we will see it.
After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples. This is exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14-20). This is the place and the way in which we are to encounter the risen Lord sacramentally, regularly and really in the Eucharist.
Every Mass is, once again, Easter at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us on our journey as we seek to see the meaning of the empty tomb. He shows in our hearts the meaning of Scripture. Then at the table of the altar, in personal Christi – in the person of the priest, Jesus breaks the bread and is revealed to be with us in his real presence. We see him behind the form of bread and wine.
The disciples begged him, “Stay with us.” So Jesus does remain with us. Though he vanished from sight at Emmaus, we see him and know him in the breaking of the bread.
‘He took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened.” Luke 24
Acts 2:14,22-28 Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11 1 Peter 1:17-21 Luke 24:13-35