Two “types” of Resurrection appearances.—The sudden appearance of Jesus to the two disillusioned disciples leaving Jerusalem for Emmaus [24, 13-32] has been described as a “circumstantial type.” The risen Jesus — like the Good Shepherd looking out for the lost sheep — appears to encourage the two dismayed disciples. This is distinct from the “concise type” in post-resurrection appearances accounted as historic incidents, such as the group appearances to the apostles. Among earliest Christians, it was this concise type of post-resurrection appearances that was sanctioned and essential for apostolic authority.
Correct interpretation of the Scriptures.—In accompanying the two disheartened disciples Jesus interpreted his death in light of God’s suffering servant who must first suffer to enter into his glory. Although familiar with their Scriptures, the two disciples showed misunderstanding. In explaining the Scriptures to them, Jesus in his passion was shamed by his kinsfolk and others and in his Resurrection was bestowed God’s definitive honour. This ascribed honour is acclaimed by believers and others in the passage with honourable titles such as prophet, the Christ, and Lord.
This prophetic reading of the Scriptures by Jesus is also the Christian view of Scriptures upheld in recent times since Vatican II in Dei verbum. The disputed location of the village of Emmaus since the third century is another point cautioning readers against a literal reading of the Bible. The approach of Jesus and of the Church invites us to review the way we read, listen to, and pray with the Word of God proclaimed.
Hospitality and breaking bread together.—Transcending the suspicion and mistrust of outsiders, the two disciples extended village hospitality by urging Jesus to stay with them. Having meals together in Luke’s gospel and among people in the Mediterranean world of Jesus’ time are ceremonials affirming companionship and social acceptance. The table fellowship shows decisively the loyalty and friendship between Jesus and the two disciples in strengthening their social bond and solidarity. The Eucharistic overtones of the breaking of bread reveals to the disciples who their companion along the way was.
Bruce J Malina & Richard L Rohrbugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels 2nd Edition. Fortress Press 2003.
Jerome H Neyrey ed, The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation. Hendrickson Publishers 2008.
John J. Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A. The Liturgical Press 1995.
The gospel passage generates themes such as the suggested ones below that could be developed in adapted forms to catechize adults, adolescents, and children.
Holy Spirit as interpreter of the Scriptures
Jesus’ paschal mystery is the centre and heart of the Scriptures
Meaning and saving significance of Christ’s death and resurrection
Holy Spirit and Church in liturgy
Holy Spirit prepares Church to meet Christ in sacraments
Sacrament and celebration of Eucharist
Sunday as the Lord’s Day and liturgical time
Hospitality and the inclusive Church and parish
Accompanying people in doubt and distress
Meditation and contemplation using the Scriptures
Luk 24, 25-27. 44-46 > CCC 112
The Holy Spirit as Interpreter of Scripture
The Scriptures is to be read and interpreted as a unity owing to the unity of God’s plan with Christ Jesus as the centre and heart, open since his Passover.
Luk 24, 25-27. 44-45 > CCC 601
Christ’s as God’s suffering servant died to redeem sinners, in accordance with the Scriptures
After his Resurrection, Christ interprets his life and death in light of God’s suffering servant in the Scriptures to two disciples at Emmaus and the apostles in Jerusalem.
Luk 24, 26-27. 44-45 > CCC 572
Christ’s paschal mystery stands at the centre of the Good News
The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of “all of the Scriptures” on the Paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection before and after his Passover.
Luk 24, 26-27. 44-48 > CCC 652
Meaning and saving significance of Christ’s Resurrection
Christ’s Resurrection fulfils the predictions of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself when he was alive “in accordance with the Scriptures.”
Luk 24, 26 > CCC 555
Transfiguration gives foretaste of Christ’s glory through the cross
In the Transfiguration Jesus reveals entering into the glory of his Resurrection — seen by Moses and Eljah – in accordance with Messiah’s sufferings predicted by the Law and the Prophets.
Luk 24, 13-49 > CCC 1094
Holy Sprit prepares Church in liturgy to receive Christ
The paschal catechesis is built on the harmony of the two Testaments – the Holy Spirit fulfils what was prefigured in the Old Covenant in the mystery of Christ celebrated in the Church’s liturgy.
Luk 24, 13-35 > CCC 1329
The Breaking of Bread
The breaking of bread enables the two disciples at Emmaus to recognize Jesus after his Resurrection. The earliest Christians called their table fellowship by this name to signify that all who partook of the one broken bread enter into the communion of Christ’s one body.
Luk 24, 13-35 > CCC 1347
Liturgical celebration of the Eucharist
The structure of the eucharistic celebration follows the same movement of the risen Jesus walking with the two disciples, explaining the Scriptures to them, and sitting with them at table in the breaking the bread.
Pope Francis on Eucharist, forgiveness, and encounter with others in life
Pope Francis listed three signs linking the Eucharist to human experience:
 Our way of living with others:
“ … when we participate in the Holy Mass, we find ourselves with many people … but the Eucharist that I celebrate, does it lead me to consider them as brothers and sisters? Does it inspire me to go towards the poor, the sick, the marginalised? Does it help me to recognise Christ’s face in them? …”
 The grace of being forgiven and willing to forgive:
“… In reality, those who celebrate the Eucharist do not do so because they believe themselves to be better, or wish to appear better than others, but because … we wish to receive God’s forgiveness, to participate in Christ’s redemption, his forgiveness. … In that bread and that wine we offer and around which we gather, the gift of the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins is renewed every time. This best summarises the deepest sense of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, and in turn it opens our hearts to the forgiveness of our brothers and to reconciliation”.
 Eucharistic celebration as related to Christian communities
“ … It must always be clear that the Eucharist … is an act of Christ! It is a gift from Christ, Who is made present and gathers us around Him, to nourish us with His Word and His life. This means that the mission and the very identity of the Church spring from this, from the Eucharist, and there they assume their form. … a celebration may prove to be impeccable, beautiful, from an external point of view, but if it does not lead to an encounter with Jesus, the risk is that it does not lead to the nourishment of our hearts and lives. Through the Eucharist, instead, Christ wishes to enter into our existence and the permeate it with his grace, so that in every Christian community there is coherence between liturgy and life.”
The Pope concluded by encouraging us to “live the Eucharist with a spirit of faith and prayer, of forgiveness, of care for the needs of many of our brothers and sisters, in the certainty that the Lord will grant that which he has promised – eternal life”.
Vatican Information Service
Thus Christ accomplishes His revelation, completing it and confirming it by the entire revelation that He makes of Himself, by words and deeds, by signs and miracles, and more especially by His death, by His resurrection and by the sending of the Spirit of Truth.
Evangelii nuntiandi 12
Compiled by Maryanne Ure
Justice & Peace Scotland
Oil paint on wooden Panel, Chapel of Nav Jyoti Niketan, Patna 1976
In Jyoti’s painting of the Emmaus road three willowy figures, in animated discussion, journey barefoot along a road lined with tall trees. One carries a bag – presumably basic provisions for their journey. Barefoot pilgrims trudging towards their longed-for destination is a common enough sight in India.
Here, the whole scene suggests a strange otherness. Unusually elongated trees stretch from the three central figures up into the dark sky. The road they have taken (Jyoti was actually painting a road near to his home) winds back to a city on the far distant horizon. Along with a broken gate, the whole landscape has a broken, dislocated look. The ‘blocked’ nature of the scene suggests the travellers’ inner dislocation and brokenness. There is a suggestion of mountains and a surrounding pool – again typical of places of pilgrimage. The oval ‘stage’ on which they walk is as though there is a world within the world. Theirs had become a disjointed world, no longer making sense to them, yet there are all these signs of another world that would bring things together.
These two unnamed disciples had left Jerusalem – the place where their hopes of a new world had been crushed when their Master had been humiliated and crucified – and set off back to Emmaus. Only days before, their pilgrimage to Jerusalem had begun with such high hopes. Nearing the powerful sanctity of God’s Holy City they too had been gripped by the messianic fervour expressed by the pilgrims during the ‘triumphal entry’. But then had come the betrayal, the arrest, the mocking, the scourging, the cross-hanging. And then the rumours of a rising from death.
As we noted above, strangely the two unknown disciples did not recognise Jesus when he joined them on the road – though there had been bewildering rumours of his rising. In fact, this ambiguity was to become the pattern in encounters with the risen Jesus. The Jesus-story is far from an historically complete biography, leaving us with no questions concerning who this person actually was. The Apostle Paul, blindly falling to the ground, and asking: ‘Who are you, Lord’, is not atypical. As Albert Schweitzer concluded his extensive Quest for the Historical Jesus a hundred years ago: ‘He comes to us as One unknown….And to those who will obey him….He will reveal Himself in the toils and conflicts, the sufferings….as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their experience Who He is’ (p.401)
At this time, though, as these two Jesus-followers returned to their own village and its secure familiarity, they were thoroughly confused. Disappointment and depression mixed with the excitement that something unexpectedly new may be happening. So they made their confused feelings known to a fellow-traveller who joined them on the road. Asking them why they were so depressed in spirit, their confusion spills out, and the ‘strange’ traveller explains the meaning of what has been happening.
We can see faint signs of the wounds of Jesus, and there is a faintly ethereal brightness in this central figure; otherwise he seems to be just a fellow-traveller. It was only when he ‘broke bread’ with them at Emmaus that ‘their eyes were opened’ and recognition dawned. (Jyoti has portrayed this bread-breaking scene in several pictures). Equally mysteriously – and typical of the resurrection visitations – the risen Christ disappears.
Making pilgrimage to a special place, but even more, being a constant pilgrim in life, is central to people of so many faiths. The Gospels (much of the Bible) are full of such journeying in a dislocated world – pilgrims who seek to move on from where they are, move on to some new life, new world. ‘We are travellers and pilgrims, seeking…..’, as the letter to the Hebrews puts it. Jesus himself was always on the move, travelling on from place to place: ‘the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head’, Jesus said of himself. We too are in an ever-changing world that affords no final, secure resting place. So we find Christ to be a fellow-traveller with us, who breaks bread with us, and helps us discover the meaning of things.
JYOTI SAHI ART ASHRAM – used with permission
PRAYER OF MANY BREADS
We pray then, good and gracious God,
that we might recognize you
in the breaking of bread today.
May we recognize you
every time we join someone on a journey,
every time we share a meal,
every time we take bread in our hands.
And may this recognition
call forth such joy in us
that we might never lose sight
of your goodness.
May it inspire such love in us
that our hearts might continue
to burn within us,
keeping alive your memory and your promise.
And may it provide
such a longing for truth in us
that we will never be satisfied
until the whole earth experiences
your justice and your peace.
Adapted by Joseph McOscar from
Janet Schaffran and Pat Kozak, More Than Words
EDUCATION FOR JUSTICE
Walking with Cleopas and companion in the company of the risen Lord how can I become more:
- aware of God’s abiding presence in moments of doubt, discouragement, and despair?
- hospitable in reflective listening and inclusive welcoming of others at home, at work, and in the parish?
- grateful of God’s faithful love in the Word and the breaking of bread in the Eucharist and more joyous in being sent forth to share my faith in kindling the faith of others?