Wednesday Octave of Easter 2012 Road to Emmaus

Scripture readings for today's Mass are here

My 2011 reflections on the Road to Emmaus Gospel Story are here and my 2010 reflections are here.

Gospel 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 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.

James Tissot :  Source

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.


He Qi Road to Emmaus

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 the bread.

This video is a lovely and moving meditation on The Road to Emmaus spoken in the first person, as told from the viewpoint of one of those whom Jesus joined on the Road to Emmaus. It uses the picture: The Supper at Emmaus (1958) by Roy De Maistre.

Credits : Picture: The Supper at Emmaus (1958) by Roy De Maistre
Music: Hymn by Adiemus

Running through this gospel and throughout the beautiful scriptures all week are thoughts about how we know things and how we are often just unable to figure out Jesus of the Resurrection and His real presence in the here and now of our daily lives.

But the scriptures tell us time and time again that knowing Jesus is primary a matter of Him revealing Himself to us in times of deep questioning, doubts and uncertainties, among huge fears, much brokenness,  but also alongside a real desire for Christ to be with us.

At times when we wonder and ask if the whole Jesus thing is for real, and maybe more acutely, wonder how to go about figuring out if it is real, this beautiful tale of the lost disciples on the road to Emmaus tells us to invite Him in, in the midst of doubt.

Christ's revelation will not only be to enhance our failing capacity for understanding, but always to fulfil our longings for beauty and meaning.

NT Wright says that this Gospel passage is: “a model for a great deal of what being a Christian is all about. 

The slow, sad dismay at the failure of human hopes; the turning to someone who might or might not help; the discovery that in scripture there lay keys which might unlock the central mysteries and enable us to find the truth; 

the sudden realization of Jesus himself, present with us, warming our hearts with his truth, showing himself as bread is broken. 

This describes the experience of innumerable Christians…”

This song, In The Breaking of The Bread carries right through to Pentecost..

 Fr. Ron Rolheiser's  2011 reflection on this Gospel from here is a wonderful explanation of what the instructions to people after the Resurrection means for us in our lives now, and what it means to meet Jesus on the Emmaus road...extract is below

He asks and answers these questions :

"Where do we meet the resurrection? Where does the resurrected Christ meet us?

Scripture is subtle, but clear. Where can we expect to meet the resurrected Christ after a crucifixion? The gospel tell us that, on the morning of the resurrection, the women-followers of Jesus, the midwives of hope, set out for the tomb of Jesus, carrying spices, intending to anoint and embalm a dead body. 

Well-intentioned, but misguided, what they find is not a dead body, but by an empty tomb and an angel challenging them with these words: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Go instead into Galilee and you will find him there!”

Go instead into Galilee. What a curious expression! What is Galilee? Why go back? In the post-resurrection accounts in the gospels, Galilee is not simply a physical geography.

 It is, first of all, a place in the heart. Galilee is the dream, the road of discipleship that they had once walked with Jesus, and that place and time when their hearts had most burned with hope and enthusiasm. 

And now, just when they feel that this all is dead, that their faith is only fantasy, they are told to go back to the place where it all began: “Go back to Galilee. He will meet you there!”

And they do go back, to Galilee, to that special place in their hearts, to the dream, to their discipleship. Sure enough, Jesus appears to them there. He doesn’t appear exactly as they remember him, nor as often as they would like him to, but he does appear as more than a ghost or a mere idea.

 The Christ that appears to them after the resurrection no longer fits their original expectation, but he is physical enough to eat fish in the presence, real enough to be touched as a human being, and powerful enough to change their lives forever.

Ultimately that is what the resurrection challenges us to do, to go back to Galilee, to return to the dream, hope, and discipleship that had once inflamed us but that now is crucified.

This too is what it means to “be on the road to Emmaus”. In Luke’s gospel, we are told that on the day of the resurrection, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, their faces downcast. That single line contains an entire spirituality: For Luke, Jerusalem, like Galilee for the other gospel writers, means the dream, the hope, the kingdom, the centre from which all is to begin and where ultimately all is to culminate. And the disciples are “walking away” from this, away from the dream, towards Emmaus. 

Emmaus was a Roman Spa—a Las Vegas and Monte Carlo of human consolation. Their dream has been crucified and the disciples, discouraged and hope-emptied, are walking away from it, towards human consolation, muttering: “But we had hoped!” They never get to Emmaus. Jesus appears to them on the road, reshapes their hope in the light of the crucifixion, and turns them back towards Jerusalem.

One of the essential messages of Easter is this: Whenever we are discouraged in our faith, whenever our hopes seem to be crucified, we need to go back to Galilee and Jerusalem, that is, to the dream, to the road of discipleship that we had embarked upon before everything went wrong. 

The temptation of course, whenever we feel this way, whenever the kingdom doesn’t seen to work, is to abandon discipleship for human consolation, to set out instead for Emmaus, for the consolation of Las Vegas and Monte Carlo.

But, as we already know, we never quite get to Emmaus. 

In one guise or another, Christ always meets us on the road, burns holes in our hearts, explains the latest crucifixion to us, and sends us back—to Galilee and to our abandoned discipleship. Once there, it all makes sense again."
Ivan Pili : The Road That Leads To Emmaus


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