When they drew near to the village to which they were going, He appeared to be going further; 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 recognized 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?"
Today is usually the Optional Memorial of St. George and the Optional Memorial of St. Adalbert but both are superseded by the liturgy of the Easter Sunday. In England where St. George is the patron and celebrated as a solemnity, the celebration of St. George has been transferred to Monday, April 24.
Third Sunday of Easter Mass Readings, Cycle A:
The First Reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33 and concerns bearing witness to the "name" of Jesus, and the implications which this witnessing necessarily brings with it. Peter and the apostles answered their inquisitors by stating firmly their faith in Christ, and the lesson ends with reference to their joy at having been found worthy to endure trials for the name of Christ. —A Celebrant's Guide to the New Sacramentary, A Cycle by Kevin W. Irwin
The Second Reading is from the First Letter of Peter 1:17-21. St. Peter says that we are sons of God because of his infinite mercy in sending Christ to us as our brother. So we can rightly call God our "Father." But we must behave as true, loyal sons, during our "time of exile" on this earth, for our merciful Father is also the absolutely just God who will judge each one of us "impartially according to our deeds" when we lay down our earthly life. —A Guide to the Eucharist and Hours—Lent by Kevin W. Irwin
The Gospel is from St. Luke 24:13-35. It is the first day of the week after the great Jewish feast of the Passover and Jerusalem is trying to return to its normal routine. The shop keepers count their profits and the Temple priests congratulate themselves because they were able to kill the ‘Galilean’. For the disciples and those who were ‘foreigners’ in Jerusalem, it is time to start to return to their own homes and their normal lives.
Curtains were closed and lights were dimmed not only due to the celebration of Jerusalem’s solemn festival but also because everyone had hope that the man Jesus ‘would be the One to redeem Israel’ (Lk 24:21). The two disciples from Emmaus are to be found, along their journey, talking to ‘Jesus in person’, ‘but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him’ (Lk 24:16).
Why did the Lord not tell the disciples straight away who He was? Indeed, in the dialogue that the liturgy presents to us today, it almost seems that Jesus did all He could to avoid revealing His true identity. Firstly, He pretended not to know what Cleopas and his companion were discussing and then He went on to ‘explain to them the passages throughout scriptures that were about Himself’ (Lk 24:27) but without making direct reference to Himself.
At the end of the journey, ‘He made to go on’ (Lk 24:28). Jesus didn’t want to play games with His disciples, but He sought to educate their hearts, and also ours, so that we won’t be ‘slow’! In fact, when faced with the Lord’s Presence, we find that the heart quickly ‘burns’ upon hearing His words as we are grateful of the fact that we were freed not by ‘gold and silver but by the precious blood of Christ’ who is the ‘blameless and spotless’ lamb (Cf. 1 Pet 1:19).
The Risen Lord uses so much gentleness with us! He doesn’t oblige us to ‘believe’ but He offers us the instruments that enable us to judge based on the infallible measure of our own hearts. As St Augustine extraordinarily wrote in the opening of his Confessions ‘our heart is restless until it rests in you’ (St. Augustine, Conf. 1,1,1:PL 32,659-661)
There is still one more detail that calls for our attention and raises many questions: why did the eyes of the disciples open to recognise Jesus whilst they were at table with Him? The Eucharistic context is undeniable. The disciples are at table, the Lord is with them; He took the bread and saying the prayer of benediction, broke it. It was during the last action of the breaking of the bread that the companions recognized Jesus. It was not only the action in itself but finally Cleopas and his friends could see, with their own eyes, the hands pierced by the nails of the passion that until that very movement had remained hidden from them during the long journey on the road.
It was in that very moment in which they recognized the presence of the Crucified One, that He ‘disappeared from their sight’ whilst their eyes remained fixed on the broken bread, that was left to fall ‘onto the altar’. Is it not the same experience that every one of us can have every Sunday?
So, ‘they set out that instant’ (Lk 24:33). They started to understand that death is not the last word on the life of each one of us as we can not be ‘held in its power’ (Acts 2:24). This is a sign of great hope that gives us irreprehensible joy! In so much as we journey to Jerusalem—each on his own road, it must often seem long and tiring. However, now with our eyes fully opened it appears that we have the privilege to say to all the world, ‘the Lord has indeed risen’ (Lk 24:34).
—From the Congregation for the Clergy
Meditation: On the road to Emmaus: Jesus, alive and at our side
The Gospel of today’s Mass presents us with another appearance of Jesus on the evening of his Resurrection. Two disciples are making their way to the village of Emmaus, having lost all hope because Christ, in whom they had placed the whole meaning of their lives, was dead. Our Lord catches up with them, as if He too were just another traveler on the road, and walks with them without being recognized. They engage in broken conversation, as happens when people talk as they are going along. They speak about their preoccupation: what has happened in Jerusalem on the Friday evening—the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The Crucifixion of Our Lord had been a very severe test for the hopes of all those who considered themselves to be his disciples and who to some extent or another had placed their trust in him. Things had all taken place very quickly and they still hadn’t got over all they had seen with their very eyes.
These men who are returning to their home village after having celebrated the Paschal feast in Jerusalem show by the tone of their conversation their great sadness and how discouraged and disconcerted they are: We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. But now they speak of Jesus as a reality belonging to the past:
Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed…Notice the contrast. They say ‘who was!’…And He is there by their side. He is walking with them, in their company, trying to uncover the reason, the most intimate roots of their sadness!
’Who was!’, they say. We too, if only we would examine ourselves sincerely, with an attentive examination of our sadness, our discouragement, our being a little tired of life, would find a clear link with this Gospel passage. We would discover how we spontaneously remark ‘Jesus was’, ‘Jesus said’, because we forget that, just as one the road to Emmaus, Jesus is alive and by our side at this very moment. This is a discovery which enlivens our faith and revives our hope, a finding that points to Jesus as a joy that is ever present: Jesus is, Jesus prefers, Jesus says, Jesus commands now at this very moment (A. G. Dorronsoro, God and People)
These men did know about Christ’s promise of rising on the third day. They had heard that morning the message of the women who had seen the empty tomb and the angels. Things had been sufficiently clear for them to have nourished their faith and their hope; but instead, they speak of Christ as belonging to the past, as a lost opportunity. They are a living picture of discouragement. Their minds are in darkness and their hearts are numbed.
Christ Himself—whom they did not at first recognize but whose company and conversation they accept—interprets those events for them in the light of the Scriptures. Patiently He restores in them their faith and their hope. And the two of them recover also their joy and their love: Did not our hearts burn within us, they say later, while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?
It is possible that we too may sometimes meet with discouragement and lack of hope because of defects that we cannot manage to root out, or of difficulties in the apostolate or in our work that seem to be insurmountable…. On these occasions, provided we allow ourselves to be helped, Jesus will not allow us to be parted from him. Perhaps it will be in spiritual direction, once we open our souls in all sincerity, that we will come to see Our Lord again. And with him there will always come joy and the desire to begin again as soon as possible: And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. But it is essential that we allow ourselves to be helped, and that we are ready to be docile to the advice that we receive.
—Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, Daily Meditations Volume Two: Lent-Holy Week-Eastertide