The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
April 26, 2020 – Second Sunday of Easter - Luke 24:13-35
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Many of us enjoy hearing or reading today’s gospel. There’s something both common and extraordinary about it. Two followers of Jesus are walking along a road just outside Jerusalem. (Some speculate that they might be a married couple.) A stranger approached and they begin to talk to him. The two are concerned and worried. They were in Jerusalem and had witnessed the terrible death of Jesus. They couldn’t get that out of their mind. Their new walking companion doesn’t seem to know about what happened to Jesus so the two filled him in on the details.
Approaching the small town of Emmaus, they asked if he had any plans for dinner. He apparently said that he didn’t, so they invited him to join them. They continued to talk. In due course, the stranger (who was actually Jesus) said a table blessing, broke the bread and gave them each part of it. Suddenly, they realized who he was. It was Jesus, and just as mysteriously as he had joined them on the road to Emmaus, he left them. They must have been beside themselves, astonished to say the least. Then they admitted that even while on the road with him, they had questions. John used almost poetic language to describe them as they felt their hearts burning within them. Something very special might have been going on. It was.
We are left to wonder whether their dining experience of being with Jesus may have been a common experience for the early followers of Jesus after the Resurrection. At the Last Supper he had given them a way of remembering him. He would remain with them “in the breaking of the bread.” Today, we call this celebrating the Holy Eucharist. Over the centuries Christians have created various ways to do this “remembering.” It became a primary way to not only recall the events of the life of Jesus, but also an opportunity to be with him right now during our lives.
And doing this remembering while “breaking bread” also has its meaning. We believe that the Risen Christ is present in the consecrated bread, but that bread must be shared. The Eucharist is not to be an experience of dining alone, but it is the meal of a community, a kind of family meal. It is a time to recognize that the Risen Jesus has not left us alone and that whenever we break bread with him in mind, and with our hearts burning with love inside us, he remains with us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD