Luke 24:13-35 On the first day of the week, two of Jesus' followers were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. m
Reflection Have you ever been so distressed, disturbed or dismayed that you could not stop the tape from playing over and over and over in your mind? Have you ever heard yourself telling your story over and over again and leaving no room for anything new? I certainly have. Surely this must have been Cleopas and the other disciple’s experience. Their minds must have been so filled with flashbacks and their emotions so stunned with the sights and sounds and smells of the past three days that there was no room for Jesus to arise in their consciousness.
Indeed, all the words in the world, even ‘the stranger’s” full account of God’s story, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets…” and interpreting for the disciples, “the things about himself in all the scriptures,” all the words were not sufficient to break into Cleopas and the other disciples’ bristling state of consciousness.
However, “When the stranger was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Jesus); and he vanished from their sight.” The veil between ordinary and an altered state of extraordinary consciousness was torn. The two disciples experienced a dimension of reality in which Jesus was present in spirit. That experience opened their hearts and their minds. They remembered, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" And their lives were forever changed.
Cleopas and the other disciple turned in their tracks. They returned to Jerusalem, found their friends and they told them, “what had happened on the road, and how (Jesus) had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Ordinary bread; taken, blessed, broken and given away, a sacred symbol pointing beyond itself to an “inward and spiritual” dimension of reality. An ordinary loaf of bread given to gladden the disciples’ hunger for divine relationship.
We do this on the first day of every week; come together with our friends, listen to the words of Holy Scripture interpreted and then share an ordinary meal of bread and wine. This ordinary meal opens the eyes of our hearts and unclogs the furrows of our minds to experience the extraordinary presence of the One who instructs us to remember, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Amen
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