Today, on Bright Tuesday, we hear Saint Luke’s account of how two travellers met the Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. However, they did not recognise Him, but were instead despondent at the news of His death and confused by the reports of His resurrection. It was only as Jesus journeyed with them, explained the Scriptures to them, spent time with them, and finally broke bread with them that they came to recognise who He was.
We see here that it is not enough to simply hear reports of the Risen Christ. Rather, if the resurrection is to become a reality to us, we need to spend time with Him and allow Him to reveal Himself to us. And, as we do so, we will encounter Him both in a correct understanding of the Scriptures and in the ‘breaking of the bread,’ which is the Eucharistic worship of the Church. Saint Augustine writes,
All that we read in holy Scripture for our instruction and salvation demands an attentive ear. You have just heard how the eyes of those two disciples whom the Lord joined on their way were kept from recognising Him. He found them in despair of the redemption that was in Christ, supposing Him now to have suffered and died as a man, not imagining Him to live forever as the Son of God. So He opened to them the Scriptures and showed them that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and for all things to be fulfilled that were written concerning Him in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms – in short, the whole of the Old Testament. Everything in those Scriptures speaks of Christ, but only to him who has ears. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And so let us pray that He will open our own.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:12-35:
At that time, Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.
And behold, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.