Sunday, April 6, 2008

On the Road Again

Now that very day two of them 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.
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 Messiah 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.
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 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.
If the Last Supper was the first Mass, and it surely was, then the second Mass took place in the village of Emmaus, on that first Easter Sunday. Amazingly the Apostles were not present, but instead two ordinary disciples and perhaps their families. As in Mass today, in all the forms of the many rites, first the scriptures were opened-- then Christ was made visible in the breaking of the bread, in the Eucharist. And for those present Christ who was with them all along, as He is with us was made truly present in the act of the Mass.
The location of Emmaus which is typically translated as seven miles from Jerusalem is described by Luke as sixty stades. A stade is a unit of distance equal to about 607 feet. Some manuscripts give other distances, up to eighteen miles outside Jerusalem. The location of Emmaus has been lost to history. The village was likely no more than a collection of huts and tents beside the road. But the most important event which ever happened in this little town has been preserved for two thousand years, by the Evangelist. The message of Emmaus is not apologetic, that is it is not aimed at defending Christian belief, rather it is catechetical.
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.
So how much of what is contained in the Gospels which explain the references to Jesus from the Psalms, the prophets, and even Genesis was first heard from the mouth of God himself on that road? We might never know, but the Gospel tells us that at least two heard it.
This passage should also touch catechists to their heart, because just has when we feed the poor, clothed the naked or visit the sick, when we catechize we are doing what Jesus did.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

This is one of the most powerful parts of the Gospel.