Sunday reflection: Luke 24:13-35

posted at 10:01 am on May 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussionPrevious Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 24:13-35:

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples 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 Christ 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 within us 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 bread.

This passage may be  a little more familiar than usual; we saw this same reading a couple of weeks ago at Easter. Today on the third Sunday of Easter, I’m taking a few days off to spend a little time with family, so I’ll just offer a few thoughts — on the road, as it were.

As I noted at Easter, we are all “on the road to Emmaus,” and all similarly preoccupied with our own woes in this world to see clearly to salvation at most times. Even when the answer is directly in front of me, I have trouble seeing it because I’m looking for a different answer — one within my experience, and one that I can assign within the taxonomy of my own reason, intellect, and will. This reminds me of a scene from the film Bruce Almighty, where the title character is imploring God to send him a sign … while driving behind a truck filled with STOP and WRONG WAY road signs.

This passage tells us one way in which we can find the voice of God. The two disciples on the road walk with the stranger and spend the time telling him of their tragic week in Jerusalem. They are trying to fill the empty space with their own voices, and for very understandable reasons — they are stricken with grief, loss, and incomprehension.  Even though the sign of all signs has been related to them — the empty tomb — it doesn’t fit within their human reason and comprehension. But they do not begin to achieve understanding until they listen rather than talk, and reflect rather than lament.

Jesus appears to the two disciples in their grief to allow them to lean on him, but also to explain salvation history in order to increase their comprehension. In our Easter Vigil Mass, we also walk through salvation history through the readings of Scripture. This is the context which Jesus gives the two disciples after they quiet themselves and open up to hearing the Word of God — even though they are not quite aware that this is what is happening until their eyes are finally opened in the breaking of the bread.

More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve been the Bruce in my life. I’ve loudly demanded that God show Himself to me, rather than quiet myself to commune with Him through the Holy Spirit. I’ve been on the road, petulantly insisting on signs while ignoring His voice within me attempting to provide me with guidance.  Yesterday’s reading from John 14 offered a related look at the same phenomenon, when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father and that would be good enough for them to believe — after years of being on the road with Jesus. Jesus replied, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Philip wanted Jesus and the Father to fit into his own life, rather than fit himself into an effective communion with God.

We want the shortcuts to faith, and we want shortcuts to certainty that fit within our own limited human understanding of the world. All of that bluster puts barriers between us and the Holy Spirit. If we want to understand salvation and invite God to speak to us, we need to stop talking and start listening.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Happy birthday to your sister.

celtic warrior on May 4, 2014 at 10:27 AM

If we want to understand salvation and invite God to speak to us, we need to stop talking and start listening.

It would seem to be that the salient point in your comment is “If we want… Sadly, few want to listen.

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know that they are doing evil.” Ecc. 5:1

Cleombrotus on May 4, 2014 at 10:38 AM

amen,

phatfawzi on May 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Good Post Ed.

I wonder if you would consider attributing the artists who make the great art you select on your sunday reflection posts?

This one is attributed to two 16th c artists.

Christ on the Road to Emmaus
123 x 168 cm. O/C

Jan Wildens and Hans Jordaens III

http://www.pubhist.com/w17973

Jan Wildens (1586-1653) often collaborated with the Great Baroque Master Rubens.

Hope you enjoy your time with your family.

workingclass artist on May 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

If we want to understand salvation and invite God to speak to us, we need to stop talking and start listening

Amen. Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Unfortunately, he didn’t tell me how hard it would be to get that yoke over my ego – swelled head!

Silence. Decrease self so He can increase inside. A far cry from the current me, me, me society.

Kraken on May 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM

I have asked myself, “Who among all the characters in the Bible would I like to have been?”

One would be Simeon whom God had promised he would see the Savior before he died.

The other would be one of the two on the road to Emmaus: “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”

davidk on May 4, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Nice reflection Ed, on one of my favorite passages from scripture.

God meets us where we are. Here two of the disciples, scared, afraid, confused by the events of the past few days are going away from Jerusalem; essentially away from Jesus, who told them repeatedly of his passion to come.

But then Jesus meets them where they are, on this road away; and as he opens up the wisdom of God’s promise of salvation to them their hearts burn. In a moment of clarity that surround them at table, they realize that he has been with them all along, and they rush back to share the good news with all.

As you observed, we can often be so caught up in what we believe are paths we should be on in life, where we should be going, that unwittingly, unintentionally even, we fall prey to original sin; that is, thinking we know better what path to take than that which the Almighty intends for us…

If we open our hearts to our Lord, watch and listen carefully, he will lead us where we should be going; and in doing so, take us to places that we never even dreamed we’d go.

Resurrexit Vere !

My regards

RocketmanBob on May 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

workingclass artist on May 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I will in the future. Thanks for the gentle nudge!

Ed Morrissey on May 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Ed, thank you so much for postings these readings and your reflections. It reminds all of us of God’s presence in our lives.

chai on May 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Thank you for this, Brother Ed…

OmahaConservative on May 4, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Ed, you are a jewel. Thank you.

Mason on May 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Thank you. I love these reflections.

ORconservative on May 4, 2014 at 12:27 PM

thanks so much Ed.

CoffeeLover on May 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM

…thank you Ed.

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

I have always been fond of this and the other “Lesser Supper” (my term) story, of Abraham and Sarah hosting the three strangers (Father, Son & Holy Ghost?), Genesis 18:2.

God reveals himself in the basic human ritual of the shared meal, and even if everything doesn’t go alright, i.e., when you’re trying to impress important visitors (Sarah laughs at the stranger’s prediction that she’ll have a son at her age), God forgives our doubts anyway.

Wethal on May 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM

There’s a lighthearted quality to this story as well.

“You must be the only one around here who doesn’t know what’s going on.”

Of all the people to whom they could have said this!

Akzed on May 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

For us at St. Augustine, this passage was “new” — we had the short reading at Easter.

Emmaus.

Now Canada Park.

unclesmrgol on May 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM

I will in the future. Thanks for the gentle nudge!

Ed Morrissey on May 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Thanks.

I look up the images you post…especially the ones from your travels so I can read up on the history.

Yeah…I’m an art geek.

workingclass artist on May 4, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So often when we turn to God for answers, it’s because we haven’t been listening to what he’s telling us.

Immolate on May 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM

The key to understanding this passage is to recognize all the things Cleopas and his friend get wrong. First off, they call Jesus a man “who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” He’s a lot more than that. They really don’t know who He is.

And they don’t believe what the women said either. “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.” The angels are just a vision and the resurrection is reported as hearsay. The angels said that he was alive or, worse still, the vision of angels announced that he was alive. If they actually believed, they would have just said, “He is alive!”

Now, this doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or obdurate. They don’t get it because it’s all just too incredible. We all grew up hearing about Christmas and Easter; these things have lost their shock value for us. But to the first century mind, the concepts of incarnation and resurrection are absurd.

So they urge Jesus to spend the night, saying, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” But after Jesus reveals Himself, they return to Jerusalem. They had been aware of the events of the day but skeptical of the theological implications. The shock of suddenly recognizing Jesus and then having him disappear ends that skepticism with a bang. Their emotions soar and they take off that same hour.

We know that this is a trip of about seven miles, so it’s about a two hour walk – or a one-hour jog. One hour sounds closer, given the circumstances. They may have made it before it got totally dark. Don’t forget that the only artificial light at that time was candles and oil lamps, all pretty much useless to a runner. However, since the Passover begins on the night of a full moon, they would have had a nearly full moon rising a couple of hours after sunset. Their actions were emotional but not stupid.

Once there, they discover that they’re not the only ones who’ve seen the risen Lord. They hear what has happened to others and they share what happened to them. That room where everyone is gathered is the news network of the day. It’s the number one news story of all time and it’s still developing. They know He is risen and they are starting to connect the dots on how everything had been prophesied. Still, there are lots of unanswered questions.

Imagine the intensity and excitement the networks would have for this story if it was breaking today. The disciples have that – minus the commercials.

The depression is gone. The excitement is unbearable. They’re paying attention now.

Pythagoras on May 4, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Good reflections on a most interesting passage, Ed.

whatcat on May 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM

As I noted at Easter, we are all “on the road to Emmaus,” and all similarly preoccupied with our own woes in this world to see clearly to salvation at most times. Even when the answer is directly in front of me, I have trouble seeing it because I’m looking for a different answer — one within my experience, and one that I can assign within the taxonomy of my own reason, intellect, and will.

Too true. (raises hand to acknowledge culpability)

This reminds me of a scene from the film Bruce Almighty, where the title character is imploring God to send him a sign … while driving behind a truck filled with STOP and WRONG WAY road signs.

So, do you know the one about the preacher on the roof after the flood?

AesopFan on May 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

The other would be one of the two on the road to Emmaus: “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”

davidk on May 4, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Wouldn’t it be great if they had written down the “annotated edition” for us?

…Once there, they discover that they’re not the only ones who’ve seen the risen Lord. They hear what has happened to others and they share what happened to them. That room where everyone is gathered is the news network of the day. It’s the number one news story of all time and it’s still developing. They know He is risen and they are starting to connect the dots on how everything had been prophesied. Still, there are lots of unanswered questions.

Imagine the intensity and excitement the networks would have for this story if it was breaking today. The disciples have that – minus the commercials.

The depression is gone. The excitement is unbearable. They’re paying attention now.

Pythagoras on May 4, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Thanks for the very interesting, and certainly plausible, expansion.
I have wondered sometimes if the story is short in the text because it was still known to most of the Christian communities. Identifying the disciples by name argues that they were recognized as having made important contributions to the church.

The shock of suddenly recognizing Jesus ..

A friend has suggested that the risen Christ actually did look very different from what most of the disciples knew, having shed the visible marks of his very strenuous and stressful mortal years, and possibly even “reverting” to a younger age than 33.

AesopFan on May 4, 2014 at 4:13 PM

There’s a lighthearted quality to this story as well.
Akzed on May 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Sometimes we miss the funny lines, such as this from John, chapter 1:
“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?””

whatcat on May 4, 2014 at 4:26 PM

whatcat on May 4, 2014 at 4:26 PM

That one has always made me laugh as well.
It also illustrates why the Jewish “establishment” was so dismissive of His claims, as Nazareth was not one of the centers of religious orthodoxy, to say the least.

I always liked the greeting Jesus gave Nathanael*, who was willing to set aside his prejudice (or auto-snark, whichever it might have been), and go to meet the Master. He was, one might say, “willing to look outside his experience…and accept an answer that was not within the taxonomy of his own reason, intellect, and will” — like most of the disciples, then and now.

*

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he exclaimed of Nathanael, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47). At that moment, Nathanael recognized that Jesus could see into his heart and asked, in surprise, “Whence knowest thou me?” (John 1:48). The Savior’s reply demonstrated an even greater power of perception. He told Nathanael that before Philip had called him to come and see, Jesus saw him under a fig tree.
Nathanael apparently had undergone some surpassing spiritual experience while praying, or meditating, or worshipping under a fig tree. The Lord, though absent in body, had been present with Nathanael in spirit. Nathanael then recognized the Savior as the Christ and said, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

Nathanael spoke without guile. The words came from his heart. They expressed a deep conviction of truth. He followed the Savior.

AesopFan on May 4, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Ed or anyone else in the community, can you point to anther web site that’s similar to the Sunday reflection. Sometimes Reading the Book itself isn’t clear enough.thanks in advance.

phatfawzi on May 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Gosh, I love these reflections of Ed’s and all the great comments.

One of my favorite stories, that puts you right there with all the little vivid details and normal human comments.

Like Pythagoras said, you can feel the excitement. Like “our hearts are burning” listening to the Gospel.

And sharing it with all of you, (those who comment and those who read here) brings us all together. Such a joy. Praise God.

We must always remember that, just like “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him,” sometimes we do not see the Lord clearly, at points in our lives.

But we can always find Him in the Scriptures and recognize Him in “the breaking of the bread,” where He is made known to us.

Elisa on May 4, 2014 at 8:34 PM

I’m a little puzzled by the readings this week. The first reading was from Acts 2 – although it definitely relates to Easter, it’s actually a Pentecost story, and for me the defining aspect of it is the transformation of Peter after his empowerment by the Holy Spirit. And as you pointed out, The road to Emmaus Gospel reading was also the Gospel reading two weeks ago. I haven’t paid that much attention to how the lectionary works but I’m going to have to look at it now.

Shay on May 5, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Shay on May 5, 2014 at 9:13 AM

My Gospel reading at Easter (like for many Catholics) was John 20.

As you know the readings go in 3 year rotations. Year A, Year B and Year C. But I think the Easter readings are the same every year.

Easter is different than other Sundays. There are different Gospel readings for the Saturday night Easter Vigil Mass (where converts are baptized), the dawn Mass on Easter morning and the regular Easter Masses during the day and a different one for parishes that have an Easter Mass Sunday night.

Elisa on May 5, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Hope you guys don’t mind an old joke.

A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The religous man replies, ” no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.”

Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause “God will grant him a miracle.”

With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down.” St. Peter chuckles and responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”

HonestLib on May 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

HonestLib on May 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

I love that joke

Elisa on May 5, 2014 at 9:57 AM

So, do you know the one about the preacher on the roof after the flood?

AesopFan on May 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

When will I ever learn to read the comments before posting?

HonestLib on May 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM

HonestLib on May 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

It reminds me of a joke my cousin in Spain told me when I was little.

Jesus took his 12 Apostles up to the mountain to pray. He told them each to bring a rock. Everyone did, except Judas. He didn’t want to carry a rock all the way up the hill.

After teaching and praying, they got hungry, so Jesus told them all to bring out their rocks. Then He changes them into bread. Judas went hungry.

The next time they were going up to the mountain to pray, Judas got the biggest boulder he could find and thought to himself, “now I will have more bread than anyone.”

After teaching and praying, Judas went up to Jesus and said, “everyone is getting hungry, Jesus, aren’t you going to turn rocks into bread?”

Jesus said, “No. Peter, break out the sandwiches.”

Elisa on May 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Ed or anyone else in the community, can you point to anther web site that’s similar to the Sunday reflection. Sometimes Reading the Book itself isn’t clear enough.thanks in advance.

phatfawzi on May 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

While there must be several websites that comment on Sunday Scripture readings, I don’t know of a good one. Sorry.

Elisa on May 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM

can you point to anther web site that’s similar to the Sunday reflection. Sometimes Reading the Book itself isn’t clear enough.thanks in advance.

phatfawzi on May 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

If you have a smart phone,go to the Apple Store. There you can download a free app that is called, Laudate. In it are the daily readings for mass. On that page, there is a section called Reflections. You will find two articles each day interpreting the readings. Some interpretations there like Ed’s are really good. But they all clarify the readings in ways that help.
Yours in Christ,
Michael.

Michael Harlin on May 5, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Thanks for this, Ed (saved it for a Monday morning devotional).

And thanks to Pythagoras for his “annotated version” of the story. It made us feel like we are experiencing the sorrow turned to joy right along with the two disciples.

Ms. Contrarian Scientist on May 5, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Here’s an Easter joke:

A couple went to the Holy Land for a vacation and took the wife’s mother along. While they were there, the mother got sick and died.

The funeral director told the husband, “we have 2 options for your mother-in-law. We could ship her back to the US for a funeral there for $10,000 or we could bury her here. That would only cost $500 dollars.”

The man thought about it and decided to ship her home to the US.

The funeral director said, “Are you sure? We do a good job here?”

The man said, “No. 2,000 years ago you buried someone here and they came back. I can’t take that chance.”

Lol I hope that didn’t offend anyone.

Elisa on May 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Thanks for sharing.

Helps us keep perspective against all the other things we read. No contest!

www

wwwild on May 5, 2014 at 9:53 PM