April 4, 2008


Third Sunday of Easter – Year A

Luke 24:13-35

Resurrection Hope

See what loss of hope can do to you!

The passage begins with the emphasis “that very day, the first day of the week” as the day the two disciples left Jerusalem for Emmaus.

We all know what had happened on that very day. The two disciples too have heard about the events of that very day. They themselves report that they have heard from other members of their group about the empty tomb and the vision of angels (vs. 22 – 24). They think that they know this Jesus the Nazarene well. After all, they have witnessed this prophet’s mighty words and deeds (v. 19). They saw him undergoing his passion and crucifixion (v. 20). Yet, hearing about, or even having knowledge of someone or something, is not the same as knowing someone. It is not enough to have faith.

Moreover, in the case of the two disciples, they have allowed their disappointments to have the better of them. They had some agendas (“we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21), and when things did not go as plan, their plan, they become lost.

They have gotten lost because they have not seen according to God’s way. Jerusalem is where God reveals himself and his loving plan for humanity through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son[1]. And yet, the disciples are now walking away from that center of God’s action. They are going to Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem (v. 13). Is that number 7 symbolic? Can it mean that they are really going as far away as possible from where they should be?

So, it’s no surprise that the two fail to recognize Jesus.

But it is to these disciples, who are lost and confused that the Risen Lord comes. He takes the initiative. He makes the approach. He forms a community with them. He teaches them using what they can relate to, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” (v. 25-27). (Here, he uses his death and resurrection to help them read and understand Scriptures [2]).

Then, with the breaking of the bread, he reveals himself fully to them.

Once their hearts have been burning with God’s Word and their eyes recognized the Presence of the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, “they set out at once and return to Jerusalem” to give witness to the Resurrection (v. 33). They themselves now walk the seven-mile journey in a much denser darkness than the dusk that some moments before they did not want a stranger to go in. (Then they said to him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over" -- v. 29).

They have rediscovered hope, the hope in the Risen Christ.

[1] Moloney, Francis. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Reading Year A. Liturgical Press, p. 114.

[2] Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Liturgical Press, p. 399.

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