Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Emmaus Experience - Devotional Thoughts for 4th Sunday after Easter

by Fr. Mathew C. Chacko

Gospel of Luke 24:13-35

The two Emmaus disciples are not among the Eleven but could well be from among the seventy (Cyril of Alexandria). Jesus' identity is hidden from the Emmaus disciples, as the light of his star appeared upon humanity at his birth and then was hidden at his death (Ephrem the Syrian). Their recognition of him is deferred until there is time for more catechesis on the road. The eyes of the Emmaus disciples are held from recognizing Jesus because he is now to be recognized in the breaking of the bread (Augustine).

At his radiant birth therefore a radiant star appeared, and at his dark death there appeared a dark gloom. The Lord of the star appeared in his own person to the two who were traveling with him along the road, but his identity was hidden from them. His star too was like this, for its light appeared to all humanity while its pathway was hidden from all humanity. (Ephrem the Syrian)

Here we are with two others, walking along the road and talking to each other about the things that had been happening in Jerusalem—about the iniquity of the Jews, about the death of Christ. They were walking along, talking the matter over, grieving for him as if he were dead, not knowing he had risen again. He appeared and joined them as a third traveler, and entered into friendly conversation with them. Their eyes were held from recognizing him; their hearts, you see, needed more thorough instruction. Recognition is deferred. (Augustine Sermon 232.3.4)

"We," they said, "had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." O my dear disciples, you had hoped! So now you no longer hope? Look, Christ is alive! Is hope dead in you? Certainly, certainly, Christ is alive! Christ, being alive, found the hearts of his disciples dead, as he appeared and did not appear to their eyes. He was at one and the same time seen and concealed. I mean, if he wasn't seen, how could they have heard him questioning them and answered his questions?

He was walking with them along the road like a companion and was himself the leader. Of course he was seen, but he wasn't recognized. For their eyes were restrained, as we heard, so that they wouldn't recognize him. They weren't restrained so that they wouldn't see him, but they were held so that they wouldn't recognize him. (Augustine)

Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of bread. We're all right, nothing to worry about—we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sake that he didn't want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren't going to see him in the flesh, and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you're a believer, any of you, if you're not called a Christian for nothing, if you don't come to Church pointlessly, if you listen to the Word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord's absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. Those two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn't believe he had risen. Nor did they have any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive. They were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored. Sermon 235.2–3.5

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The heart of today's Gospel message is the truth that Our Lord is revealed and recognized by the faithful believers in the Breaking of the Bread and the Sharing of the Cup in Holy Eucharist. The Lord offers us the opportunity to show us that He is here for us! That is why it is important that we gather together Sunday after Sunday to worship the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with our fellow believers alive on earth and the departed saints living in the Lord's presence beyond the curtain. A lot of our brothers and sisters do not realize the need and the blessing of participating in the life-giving Body and Blood of the Savior every time they gather together around the Lord's Table. Staying away from Sunday worship and coming late, late and late destroy the whole meaning and value of our gatherings!

Perahps, we can resolve today as we call to remembrance the surprise realization of the Risen Lord by the Emmaus travelers, Clopas and Simon, at the Breaking of the Bread , to be there with earnestness each time at the Breaking of the Bread on the Lord's Day. May His presence and power renew us to continue to live our lives in His strength!

As we struggle to find meaning and relevance to our individual, family and Church life, the assurance of his promised presence at the Eucharist will strengthen us in our resolve to love and serve him through serving each other and the world around us!

To God be the glory, now and always!

See Also:

On the Road to Emmaus
by Rev. Fr. John Thomas Alummoottil

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