On the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35
3rd Sunday of Easter
Pope Benedict said that the road to Emmaus “is the path of renewal and maturation in faith for all Christians.”
The Gospel of this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Easter, is the famous story of what happened on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24,13-35). It tells of two followers of Christ who, sad and disheartened, left Jerusalem the day after the Sabbath, the third since his death, to go to a nearby village called Emmaus.
Along the road, the risen Jesus came up beside them, but they did not recognize him. Sensing their dejection, he explained on the basis of the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and die to achieve glory. Then he entered a house with them, sat down at table, blessed the bread and broke it, and then they recognized him. But he vanished from their sight, leaving them full of wonder before the broken bread, a new sign of his presence. The two immediately returned to Jerusalem and told the other disciples what happened.
The fact that archaeologists have not identified the location of Emmaus with any certainty, Pope Benedict said, holds for him a certain value: it “suggests that Emmaus is really everywhere, the road that leads there is the path of every Christian, indeed, every human being.”
On our own journeys, the risen Jesus is a travelling companion who “rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope and the breaking of the bread of eternal life.” Pope Benedict commented that the disciples’ encounter with Christ on the Road to Emmaus manifests a crisis of faith. The use of the past tense by one of the unknown disciples says it all: “We hoped, we believed, we followed…but now everything, even Jesus of Nazareth, who had shown Himself to be a prophet mighty in deed and word, even he failed, and we were left disappointed.”
“Who has not experienced in life a moment like this?” the Pope asks. “Sometimes our faith enters into a crisis, which, because of negative experiences, makes us feel abandoned and betrayed by the Lord. But the story of Emmaus suggests instead that it is possible to encounter the risen Jesus “still today”. “Still today, Jesus speaks to us in the Scripture; still today Jesus gives us his Body and his Blood”.
“The road to Emmaus becomes the way of a purification and maturation of our belief in God: the encounter with the risen Christ gives us a deeper faith, one that is authentic, tempered, so to speak, through the fire of Easter, a faith robust because it is from the word of God and the Eucharist, not human ideas.”
Concluding his reflection on the Gospel, Pope Benedict said, “This beautiful evangelical text already contains the structure of the Mass: in the first part listening to the Word through the Scriptures; second in the Eucharistic liturgy and communion with Christ present in the sacrament of his Body and his Blood. Nourishing ourselves in this twofold meal, the Church builds itself up and is renewed every day in faith, hope and charity.” “Through the intercession of Mary, we pray that each and every Christian community, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, rediscover the transforming grace of the risen Lord.”
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
– Luke 24:13-35