The two disciples were disheartened by the crucifixion of Jesus, and so they left the disciples and faithful apostles back in Jerusalem. They headed toward the city of Emmaus.
As the two disciples walked on the road to Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, Jesus began to walk with them, but the two disciples did not recognize him. And beginning with Moses and all the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus the Christ (which means anointed by God with sacred chrism) interpreted for them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. The Author of salvation history was saving them, bringing them back to the Church.
Jesus reminded them of how Moses led the People of God out of slavery in Egypt on the night of the Passover. That night the Lord had instructed his people to sacrifice a male, unblemished lamb, and eat it with unleavened bread, and then leave for the Promised Land of freedom. That historic night the angel of death would “passover” those who followed Moses’ instructions, as they ate their paschal lamb and unleavened bread for the long journey.
Jesus Christ reminded them of the time in salvation history when David – the anointed King of Israel – and his men were persecuted. At one point they were so hungry that they were given permission to eat the show bread in the temple, this sacred bread that reminded them of the Passover and God’s providential care.
Jesus reminded them of God’s story of his prophet Elijah who stopped the rains for three years. Toward the end of the drought Elijah asked a widow to give him bread to eat. She used up the last of her supply of grain and cooking oil, but in faith she gave the last of her bread to God’s prophet. After this she found that her supply of grain and oil were miraculously replenished. She then asked the prophet to stay with them until the rains would come again.
As Jesus spoke to them of the Old Testament stories, God’s stories, His Stories of faithful love, their hearts were aflame with love for God and how he was always there to care for His people who worshipped him, who strove to love him more and more.
This stranger seemed to be going past the village of Emmaus, but the two disciples were so enthralled by his sacred teachings that they begged him to stay with them. They hungered for his holy presence, they hungered for the human warmth and divine in-sights that he was revealing to them.
And 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 in the breaking of the bread. But Jesus vanished from their sight. Jesus Christ, the Lord of Salvation History, “passed over” into the bread.
They now recognized Jesus in the Old Testament, and they recognized Jesus in the story of the Last Supper with his apostles when he broke the Passover bread and said, “Take and eat, for this is my body given up for you”. They also recognized that Jesus Christ was waiting for them within the authority and power of the apostles back in Jerusalem amid the rest of Christ’s Church.
When the two disciples arrived back at Jerusalem, the apostles were delighted to see them and to tell them of the Good News that the Lord had truly risen and appeared to Simon Peter, the leader of the apostles.
The two disciples ate it up and were delighted to tell the apostles and the rest of the Church that they had walked with and were taught by the Risen Lord Jesus, for he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus Christ is truly here for us! He is the Pass-over Lamb slain for us, and the Broken Unleavened Bread of New and Eternal life! Jesus Christ is truly God with us within the Holy Eucharist – the Source and Summit of our Catholic Faith.
We rejoice and believe that Jesus Christ is here in the Holy Eucharist to speak to our hearts and our minds. He is here in the Eucharist breaking himself open to us in order to give himself completely to us as food for the journey to heaven. With growing love, let us give ourselves completely to the Lord Jesus, that we might draw others to the “source and summit” of our Catholic faith – Jesus Christ, our Eucharistic Lord.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe