The Road to Emmaus

3rd  Sunday of Easter
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today we read of Jesus meeting those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They are walking along in sadness on the road, these two, unnamed disciples. But another traveler joins them, it is Jesus, but they are not able to recognize him. They are discouraged over the Passion and death of their Master; they have forgotten all that he had taught them, that he would be raised up.

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Jesus says: ‘“What are you discussing as you walk and are sad?’ Then he ‘explained the scriptures to them. He shows them where the ancient scriptures had spoken of the Christ, that he must suffer – that they foretold the Savior.
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He is explaining the scriptures, sort of like we do here in the homily. Showing how it is all fulfilled. ‘Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.’ As they walk along, and hear from this – stranger – It says, ‘their hearts were BURNING as he spoke to them on the way.’
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As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus gave the impression that he was going on farther. ‘Stay with us,’ they urged him, for it is nearly evening.’
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They did not know this stranger, but as he spoke to them, they could feel the burning love of Christ in their hearts. So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him, in the Breaking of the Bread.’
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Friends, St. Luke in his gospel here, is showing us something. These words, ‘The Breaking of the Bread’ are code words in the bible, for the Mass. This is said many times. For example, in the Acts of the Apostles, we see that in the early church, it says:[i] ‘On the first day of the week they came together to ‘Break the Bread.’ The 1st Day of the week: That’s Sunday. That is the day for the ‘Breaking of the Bread.’
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So the gospel today is an image of the Mass, it is no doubt intentional. The first part of Mass, is the Liturgy of the Word, what we are doing now; we read from the scriptures, then they are explained. On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus first explained to them the scriptures, and what they mean.
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The 2nd part of Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, when bread and wine become the Body of Christ, the living, risen Jesus in our midst, and we see this too in today’s gospel, after the part of explaining the scriptures, the Lord is with them in the Breaking of the Bread. These are beautiful images, woven into the bible to enliven our Faith, and they are subtle, so that only believers can see it.
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Jesus cannot be seen in the Sacred Host at Mass, only by Faith. But he shows this to his disciples today, that even though they can’t see him, he is with them in the Holy Eucharist. ‘And he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.’ In this encounter, Our Lord is saying: ‘Do you understand now, I am going to be with you always, but in a new and a different way.
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Friends, Our Savior wishes to bring us to heaven, to the heavenly Jerusalem. Jerusalem, yes, is a symbol for heaven. But these disciples, discouraged – lacking faith, are found on the road, walking AWAY from Jerusalem. Without faith, they are walking away from heaven, they are walking toward hell.
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In Revelation, hell is ‘the burning pool of fire.’ Well, these disciples today, lacking Faith, they are walking toward Emmaus which means ‘HOT pool;’ they had left the road to Jerusalem, to heaven, and they were walking in the WRONG direction. But once they began to walk with Jesus, and encounter him in the Breaking of the Bread, it says ‘they rose up[ii] and returned in haste to Jerusalem.’ The direction to heaven is found by walking with Jesus and being with him in the Breaking of the Bread.
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In his Encyclical, Sacramentum Caritas, Pope Benedict said: True joy is found in recognizing that the Lord is still with us in the Eucharist, our companion along the way. On the Road to Emmaus, ‘those disciples arose and returned in haste to Jerusalem to share their joy with their brothers and sisters in the faith.
May the dear Virgin Mary help us to keep on the way with Jesus, the way to our heavenly Jerusalem.

 

[Entrusted to the prayers of Mother Teresa]

 

[i] Acts 20:7

[ii] This ‘rising up’ to go to Jerusalem no doubt alludes to resurrection and heavenly glory.

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