April 30, 2017
Execution by crucifixion was reserved for the most contemptuous of criminals. The early disciples were disappointed and humiliated by the fact that Jesus was crucified. Last Sunday’s gospel also suggests that they were afraid for their own safety. It should be no surprise that some of the disciples gathered behind the locked doors and still others fled the situation. Emmaus was a Roman Spa, a place of physical comfort.
The two that were on the road to Emmaus might have been any of many pilgrims who had been to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and were now returning home. But Luke tells us that these two were disciples. There is some reason to suspect that they were husband and wife. Missionary couples like Aguila and Priscilla were known among the early Christian community (Acts 18:2). John’s gospel mentions the wife of Clopas (possibly Cleopas) at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother and Mary of Magdala (John 19:25). Another reason to think they were a couple is that their invitation of hospitality toward Jesus, at the end of the text, seems to have been made together.
When Jesus joined them, he appeared to them to be a fellow pilgrim returning from the Passover celebration. They were surprised by the fact that he seemed to be unaware of Jesus’ crucifixion. The two disciples explained the events of the crucifixion, and of that Sunday morning, as they knew them. They were aware that some of the women had reported the empty tomb, and that an angel told them that Jesus was alive. Others had verified that the tomb was empty, and they did not find Jesus, nor, apparently, did they find the angel who had appeared to the women. The two also revealed that they were among Jesus’ followers, and that they had hoped that he might be the awaited savior. They told all of this to a person who appeared to be a total stranger! At the same time they are heading out of Jerusalem, away of the other disciples to the Roman Spa City of Emmaus.
From their perspective, this stranger seemed to be able to reinterpret their religious traditions in such a way that the events of Jesus’ death were the fulfillment of their tradition. Even with this new understanding their tradition they were continuing their journey to Emmaus and unware that the person walking with them was the risen Jesus. They will not rediscover their hope and faith in Jesus as the Messiah until Jesus accepts their invitation to joined them and brakes bread with them. The formula of verse 30 is same as that of the Last supper (Luke 22:19), “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’”
- Have you faced a life situation that was dreadful or out of control? How do you respond?
- Have you ever had sense that God was walking with you? Did have that awareness during that period of your life or later?
- Have you ever come to awareness that you had been prevented from recognizing God’s presence in your life? What were some of the things that prevented you form recognizing God’s presence?
- On the road, the two disciples told Jesus not only what had happened in Jerusalem, but also how these events had impacted them personally. How easy is it for you to share with others your doubts, fears and disappointments?
- What do you think is the emotional state of the two disciples who are on the way to Emmaus? Why would Jesus want to come to these two disciples?
- The disciples did not recognized Jesus until the breaking of the bread. Has your participation in the Eucharist brought you to a new awareness of your relationship to God, the church or creation?
Reflection questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.
They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.