Today’s gospel is about two men on their way to Emmaus, two dejected men who knew Jesus and were devastated by his death and the manner in which he was killed. These men as did Mary Magdalene, had a deep love for Jesus, and even though he told them several times what his future would be and what was his purpose, they did not really understand. It was resurrection day and the two had already heard the astounding news from the women, including Mary Magdalene, that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. You see, in spite of all that Jesus had said and done, they all thought that he was dead and were completely devastated. In their humanness, the last thing they needed was to now hear that his body was no longer there. What would they hold on too now?
Most of us have experienced the death of a loved one – maybe a son, a daughter, father, mother, your husband, your wife, your life-long companion – and so you can identify with the sense of loss that the disciples felt. They must have thought that they could console themselves by going to the tomb from time to time and probably talking with him just as they used to. But now that his body was no longer there, what will they have to hold on too? But Jesus was not just a man, He is the Son of the Living God who had a very specific purpose – to be the spotless Lamb of God who takes away all our sins by freely laying down His life and then taking it back up again.
These two disciples knew Jesus quite well. They must have experienced the many miracles that he worked and must have heard all the discourses he had with the Scribes and the Pharisees. They knew him to be teacher, healer, prophet. On the road to Emmaus, the two heart-broken disciples must have recalled Jesus saying, “The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down, so I have power to take it up again; and this is the command I have received from my Father.” They must have been trying to put the pieces together to make sense at what had happened. Yet in spite of that deep longing in their hearts, they did not, they could not recognize Jesus when He came alongside them. You see they had not understood what the resurrection from the dead meant even though Jesus walked with them and He talked with them, and He explained the Scripture to them. They could not grasp the full picture. Their eyes were finally opened when Jesus broke the bread with them. Their hearts must have tripped. They must have been all over themselves as they recalled the times when He broke bread and fed the multitudes. That was His unmistakable signature! This man who walks with us must be the Christ! Can it be true? Can it be that He really has risen from the dead? No one else breaks bread that way. No one else! All that He said was really true! Hallelujah! He Is ALIVE!
It is very interesting what opened the eyes of those two disciples; the breaking of bread, also known as the Holy Eucharist, as seen – not on TV – but only in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Many Catholic sad to say either turn their backs or treat with scam courtesy, the very thing that caused the eyes of the disciples to be opened while on their way to Emmaus. They were completely devastated and though Jesus came along, He walked with them, He talked with them, He even explained Scripture to them, they did not recognize Him, not until He shared Eucharist with them; and then their sadness turned to joy.
Are we joyful when we receive the Holy Eucharist? Do our hearts burn within us as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist? We may not see the glorified Jesus Christ at Mass. All that we may see is a small white host. But because of the sacrifice on Calvary, where His body was broken and He gave His life for our sakes, He can now be broken as bread and given to us; body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. In return for this, the most precious gift ever given, let us respond generously by giving His our hearts and our lives.
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