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Between Easter and Pentecost we focus on people’s encounters with the risen Christ. Last week we reflected on Thomas’ encounter with Jesus some days after the resurrection. Today, in Luke 24: 13-35, we reflect on the two disciples who met Jesus while they were travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They don’t realise that it was Jesus until the very end. Their journey has three phases:
- They initially fellowship with Jesus, sharing their story of Jesus with this stranger and commiserating about his untimely death.
- Then Jesus teaches them about the Christ, drawing on the whole of the First Testament, explaining who the Messiah was prophesied to be and how these prophecies were fulfilled in the Christ. But still, they did not recognise Jesus.
- Finally, they shared a meal with Jesus – they broke bread together. And as Jesus, took, blessed (or gave thanks), broke and gave the break to them, their eyes were opened and they finally recognised him.
In hindsight, they realised that they had encountered Jesus: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
Ultimately, it is in the taking, thanking, breaking and giving that they recognise Jesus. This is what Jesus did in Luke 9:16, when he fed the five thousand. And also just a few days before at the Last Supper in Luke 22:19. This celebration of the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper, Communion, Mass, Divine Liturgy) was the clincher, following fellowship and teaching, that reveals Christ to them.
This narrative follows the same pattern of the early church in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Now, our passage in Luke 24 doesn’t mention prayer, but prayer is (essentially) talking with and listening to Jesus. Prayer is just conversation with God. And this is what the two disciples were doing, even though they did not realise it, during the long walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, as they journeyed with Jesus: they were talking with God.
Featured image Emmaus Road, by Chinese artist He Qi. https://alfayomega.es/106963/emaus-de-la-decepcion-a-la-alegria