Today we read one of the most beautiful and inspiring Gospels of the year. It begins with an enigmatic encounter between two disciples and Christ. It is this encounter that we shall be meditating on today. Read the Gospel several times, slowly, prayerfully, and listen to what it has to say to you. Put yourself inside the Gospel message. Be there on that journey, and listen.
We do not know why the disciples didn’t recognise Christ. We might struggle with the notion that they didn’t recognise him. After-all, they dedicated so much of their lives to Christ, why then did they not register his identity?
Then again, how often are we on that same road as the disciples, speaking with Christ but not knowing until later? And perhaps here is part of the enigma: that this story reaches beyond the resurrection and into our own lives.
The identity of Christ, the true identity, can indeed be found by us, two thousand years after Christ’s ministry.
He did not come to the disciples in a great regal procession, or in a dramatic epiphany seen by many. The link to Christ began with a stranger on their road, developing as their relationship became deeper, and culminating with a meal and the breaking of bread. It is a reminder of what Christ said to the Samaritan woman at the well… That if only she knew. And it is the same for us on our road. If only we knew that Christ lives in that stranger, how would it change what we do?
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 24:13-35
They recognised him at the breaking of bread.
Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days’. ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.
Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
The Gospel of the Lord.