LUKE 24. 13-35
On that same day, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ Jesus asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Today’s story took place only three days after Jesus’ death and these two people who we know are Cleopas and one another were walking to Emmaus. This is a town about 7 miles from Jerusalem, not very far from all that had happened, but hopefully far enough to keep them safe from those who were persecuting them, we would assume that it was two men but some theologians think it may have been his wife, perhaps they lived in Emmaus, they were certainly familiar with where they were going as they asked him to join them for food and shelter.
The stranger (Jesus) interpreted the scriptures and prophecies for them and put them right about all that had happened and still they did not realise it was Jesus but as soon as he broke the bread, as he did during the last supper, their eyes were opened to his identity, that simple act, that means that they were either at the last super with him or they had seen him do this before. They look back on the whole encounter and realise that the burning feeling they had in their hearts was not fear but the fact that they were in the presence of God. Some theologians think that Cleopas’ wife was called Mary so could it be that they had indeed been with the disciples during that last supper?
After this it is said that they ran back to tell the disciples, they were still in Jerusalem, and it is then that Jesus appears to them as in last week’s reading and Thomas doubts the resurrection of the Lord. So, these readings are the wrong way round chronologically but what does it tell us and how can we interpret this story why is it significant?
My thoughts after doing a little research on various opinions are that 1. The people following Jesus then, are no different than our own Christian families, we experience many things in our lives, disappointment, rejection, wanting to give up but turn to each other for advice, support and love. Within our family we sort things out by sharing together and in the story the disciples gather together to share and work out what to do next. 2. Jesus had concentrated his work and spreading the word of the Lord in what we now call the Holy land, originally the Israelites came out of Egypt to find that Holy land and now Jesus wants a new Exodus to go out throughout the world on a new journey out of their comfort zone, to travel to new countries and spread the faith 3. The breaking of bread was highly significant, He invites us to know Jesus by the breaking of bread and although Jesus is not physically with us he is with us spiritually in the sacrament of Holy Communion and in the scriptures, so we don’t need to see him, it is all there for us and today we need to share in this sacrament.
Lastly they too were on a journey, they encountered Jesus and their destination and their lives changed, many people start a journey, plan it out, but feel called to do something else and change their life journey, it may be called to ministry, helping out in the community, getting involved in charity work or just coming back to church or prayer, follow what you think God is calling you to do and keep him close by prayer.
Our journeys are not straight forward but with the support we can get from our faith it will guide us through.