3rd Sunday Easter: Scriptures and the Breaking of Bread

The two disciples were on their way home, talking and debating about the recent events, since they were quite baffled by the things they had witnessed during their stay in Jerusalem for the great solemnities.  A stranger overtakes them, asks what they are discussing, it surprises them that he knows nothing of what has happened, a pilgrim like themselves, they assume who asks about the recent events that they were discussing.

So they tell him that Jesus the Nazarene, a prophet, was arrested and executed, the one they’d hoped was the one to redeem God’s people, the anointed One.  Then they heard that his body had disappeared and the tomb was found empty by some women of their group, who said they’d seen a vision of angels who declared that he was alive!  What could anyone make of all that?

It’s very compact, a neat summary of the facts. But, as so often, the facts in the case don’t make much sense.  You can tell people what happened about a certain event, but, if you don’t supply some of the context, what you say will not make much sense. You need to remind them of the circumstances concerning the event.

The stranger then starts to gently chide them, asking them if they haven’t they read the books of Moses and the Prophets? He goes on to ask them if they haven’t they read the writings of Isaiah and Ezekiel?  Don’t they see the connections? The stranger sees that they still don’t get it and calls them “slow of heart”.   Nowadays we call “emotional intelligence” those things people find hard to understand in a purely intellectual way; things they have to be really moved emotionally as well to understand. 

Anyway, he starts explaining the Scriptures concerning those things that refer to him. He is reminding them of what they should have understood from hearing the Scriptures read aloud in the synagogue about the Promised One who was to come, who had to suffer a horrible passion and death to bring about salvation and glory for his people.

By this time they are nearly home.  The stranger looks like he is continuing on. But their interest has been kindled, their hearts burn within them, so they invite the stranger to stay with them that evening.  That’s all he needs.  So “when he was at table with them he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.”  And that did it!  The stranger’s identity was revealed. It took hearing the Scriptures and breaking bread with Him, to make sense of the recent events.

Surprise, surprise!  To understand Easter fully, we too need to hear the Sacred Scriptures and experience the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist at Mass. For the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as for each one of us, the One who joins us on the way, intervening in our lives, unexpectedly often, even uninvited, turns out to be the One who makes the sad and tragic story of the passion and death of Jesus into Good News of salvation and glory.  

The bare facts of our redemption and salvation mean nothing without hearing the Holy Scriptures and taking part in the Holy Eucharist.  And as always with our God, vision is mission.  After we experience Him at Mass, He then withdraws, leaving you and me to take the Good News to home, school, work and the wider community.

Fr. Tom