The road to Emmaus is our road, our journey. At every Eucharist, as at Emmaus, Christ is there to accompany us on our journey.
The Emmaus event gives us an insight into the faith of the early Christian community about the resurrection of Jesus. No one was physically present to witness the very moment of the resurrection. Astoundingly, the early Christians do not question this event.
What accounts for the early Christians and their unswerving faith in the resurrection of Jesus. This was not only just because the Apostles witnessed to their experience of the empty tomb, or the many appearances of Jesus that followed. It is also because of the power of signs, most especially the sacramental sign of the Eucharist, which communicates daily the reality of the resurrection.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the disciples on the road, interpreting the Scriptures. He tells them that the Scriptures of the Old Testament refer to him. He shows them that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
These Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church – to bring the message of redemption to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
In the First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission. We see the apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them to. God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets. Peter’s homily is full of images and symbols from the Old Testament. He evokes Moses and the exodus of the Israelites. In this action God is revealed as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6,15).
Peter identifies Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who has been glorified (Isaiah 52:13). St. John recounts how Israel’s priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins. He says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (Romans 8:34), and that the offering of his blood is the sacrificial atonement for the sins of the whole world (1 John 1:7).
In all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to advance the Church’s mission to all people. They reveal the truth about who Jesus is, and bring people to repentance, and into the sphere of God’s redeeming love.
This is how we should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more “about” Jesus, but to truly know Christ personally, and to know be drawn into relationship with him through our lives.
In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.
It is at Emmaus that we see the Eucharist—the “breaking of the bread” as it was called in the early Church—become the sign, par excellence, communicating the resurrection of Jesus. For, even though Jesus walked the long road to Emmaus with the disciples, and even though their hearts burned within them as Jesus preached and taught them about the recent events that occurred in Jerusalem, it was only at the “breaking of the bread” (in the celebrating of the Eucharist) that their eyes were opened to faith, and they recognized Jesus’ presence.
As it was for these early disciples in the Christian community, it is for us today. The celebration of the Mass gives us the opportunity to walk alongside Jesus, and each other, to be instructed and go into the deeper meaning of our faith. Our hearts may burn within us, during the proclamation of the Word of God. This prepares us not to experience the Eucharistic Prayer and then Holy Communion with the risen Lord. In this process the grace of the Sacrament effects what it signifies — the real presence of the crucified and risen Christ. We sense the presence of the risen Lord, in a way seeing Jesus and, understanding that he instructs but also communicates with us in the Eucharist.
Readings: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; Ps. 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9; I John 2: 1-5a; Luke 24: 35-48