Today’s Gospel passage records the very first appearance of Jesus after the resurrection in the Gospel of St. Luke. There are several subtle details that tells us not only who these disciples were but also why they are traveling to Emmaus. This little Jewish community lies east of Jerusalem. So the disciples would have been walking into the darkness as they made their way home. St. Luke uses the physical darkness as a metaphor for how the two disciples were feeling.
Their friend, master, and teacher had died. They had pinned their hopes on him. They thought that he was the leader who would overthrow the Romans in Jerusalem and restore the ancient religion of Israel. Instead, he had been arrested and made to suffer the most humiliating kind of execution imaginable. Is it any wonder that they were completely forlorn and dejected?
St. Luke records that Jesus’ first appearance is to two who more or less represent all of the followers of Jesus. They were giving up. They did not think there was any reason to continue. Even though they had been told that some of Jesus’ followers were proclaiming that Jesus had risen, they simply could not believe that this was so.
The beauty of this story lies in the fact that these two were chosen to be witnesses because of how they felt about the events of the past few days. St. Luke depicts the beginning of Jesus’ ministry by quoting the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” The Emmaus story brings that prophecy to completion as Jesus himself teaches these two disciples that all that had happened had been God’s plan from the beginning.
Just as they came to recognize him in the breaking of the bread, we too recognize him as we celebrate the Eucharist once again. Jesus comes to bring us the good news of eternal life and offers us his body and blood as his bond, his promise.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator