Third Sunday of Easter
The disciples of Emmaus
…two of them [disciples] were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, … and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel …Some women … were at the tomb …and did not find his body …And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart …Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures … he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” … while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem … Lk 24,13-33
In the occurrence of these two disciples who sadly walk away and then return to Jerusalem full of joy, the Christian meaning of conversion is hidden. Since they have not lived in the Spirit the events of the resurrected Christ, they try to remove from their life a past time to forget, but after Jesus has approached them and explained the events to them, they pass from mere knowledge to the understanding of the events, and finally to faith. Even today it is possible to know the Scriptures and theology, without reaching faith. Martin Buber summarizes this situation with the statement: “The theologian speaks of God, the man of faith speaks with God”. The two disciples of today’s Gospel teach us, indeed, that you can converse, discuss and talk of God’s matters without understanding them. It is not enough to study and speak of the Lord to know him, you need to stand and listen. God’s truth cannot be reached because we understand them, but only because he tells it to us. It is for this reason that the two disciples feel the heat in their heart when Jesus explains to them the Scriptures. Even today, two thousand years later, it is always God in the person of the Holy Spirit who allows us to understand the meaning of the Scriptures. However, despite how much the disciples’ heart is heated as they listen to Jesus, they recognize the Lord only at the breaking of the bread. It is the sign of Jesus who gives himself, it is the sign of Eucharist, of Providence coming to us and of sharing. It is a sign of divine grace and the sense of life itself.