Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: The Road to Emmaus, 2nd Sun after New Sunday
Volume 6 No. 344 April 15, 2016
 
III. Featured Articles: Road to Emmaus

Mass on the Move: The Hidden Mass on the Road to Emmaus

by Msgr. Charles Pope

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Today's Gospel of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff) does more than present a resurrection appearance. It also presents the Mass in seminal form as I will show. In doing this, Luke and the Holy Spirit teach us that the Mass is the essential and most vivid way that we encounter Christ now. The two disciples also learn this lesson for as soon as they recognize Christ "in the breaking of the bread" he vanishes from their earthly eyes. In effect Christ teaches them they will no longer see him in an earthly way but now they will see him with the eyes of faith in the Eucharist, the liturgy and, by extension, in all the sacraments.

So for us to who to encounter the risen Lord Jesus, this Gospel teaches us that the Mass is the most perfect way and place we will encounter him. Let's examine this resurrection appearance and see it for what it is, a Mass.

Gathering Rite - The Curtain rises on this Mass with two disciples having gathered together on a journey: Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus (Lk 24:13). This is what we do as the preliminary act of every Mass. We who are pilgrims on a journey come together on our journey. It so happens for these two disciples that Jesus joins them: And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them (Luke 24:15). The text goes on to inform us that they did not recognize Jesus yet. Now for us who gather at Mass it is essential to acknowledge by faith that when we gather together, the Lord Jesus is with us, for Scripture says, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matt 18:20). it is a true fact that for many of us too, Jesus is unrecognized! Yet he is no less among us than he was present to these two disciples who fail to recognize him. Liturgically we acknowledge the presence of the Lord at the beginning of the Mass in two ways. First, as the priest processes down the aisle the congregation sings a hymn of praise. It is not "Fr. Jones" they praise it is Jesus whom "Fr. Jones" represents that they praise. Once at the Chair the celebrant (who is really Christ) says, "The Lord be with you." And thereby he announces the presence of Christ among us promised by the Scriptures. The Mass has begun, our two disciples are gathered and the Lord is with them. So too for us at every Mass.

Penitential Rite ('Hoosoyo')

The two disciples seem troubled and the Lord inquires of them the source of their distress: What are you discussing as you walk along? (Lk 24:17) In effect the Lord invites them to speak with him about what is troubling them. It may also be a gentle rebuke from the Lord that the two of them are walking away from Jerusalem, away from the site of the resurrection. Clearly their sorrow and distress are governing their behavior. Even though they have already heard evidence of his resurrection (cf 24:22-24), they seem hopeless and have turned away from this good news. The text describes them as "downcast" (24:17). Thus the Lord engages them is a kind of gentle penitential rite and wants to engage them on their negativity. So too for us at Mass. The penitential rite is a moment when the celebrant (who is really Christ) invites us to lay down our burdens and sins before the Lord who alone can heal us. We too often enter the presence of God looking downcast and carrying many burdens and sins. We too like these two disciples may be walking in wrongful directions. And so the Lord says to us, in effect, "What are thinking about and doing as you walk along. Where are you going with your life. And thus again we see in this story about two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Mass that is so familiar to us.

The Liturgy of the Word (Sermon)

In response to their concerns and struggles the Lord breaks open the Word of God, the Scriptures. The text says: Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures (Luke 24:27). Notice that, not only does the Lord refer to Scripture but he interprets it for them. Hence the Word is not only read, there is also a homily, an explanation and application of the Scripture to the struggles these men have. The homily was a good one too for later, the disciples remark: Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32) And so too for us at Mass. Whatever struggles we may have brought to the Mass, the Lord bids us to listen to his Word as the Scriptures are proclaimed. Then the homilist (who is really Christ) interprets and applies the Word to our life. It is a true fact that the Lord works through a weak human agent (the priest or deacon) but God can write straight with crooked lines and as long as the homilist is orthodox, it is Christ who speaks. Pray for your homilist to be an obedient and useful instrument for Christ at the homily moment. After the homily we usually make prayers and requests of Christ. And so it is that we also see these two disciples request of Christ: Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over. (Luke 24:29) Is this not what we also say in so many words: Stay with us Lord, for it is sometimes dark in our lives and the shadows are growing long. Stay with us Lord and those we love so that we will not be alone in the dark. In our darkest hours, be to us a light O Lord that never fades away. Yes, this whole brief journey of Jesus and the disciples is surely familiar to us who attend the Catholic Mass!

The Liturgy of the Eucharist (Anaphora)

Christ does stay with them and then come the lines that no Catholic could miss: And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them (Luke 24:30). Yes, the Mass to be sure. Later, the two disciples will refer back to this moment as the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35), a clear Biblical reference to the Holy Eucharist. The words of Mass come immediately to mind: "While they were at supper He took the bread, and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said, take this all of you and eat it: this is my Body which will be given up for you." A fascinating thing happens though: With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight (Luke 24:31). First note that it is the very act of consecration that opens their eyes. Is this not what Holy Communion is to do for us? Are we not to learn to recognize Christ by the very mysteries we celebrate? The liturgy and the sacraments are not mere rituals, they are encounters with Jesus Christ, and though our repeated celebration of the holy mysteries our eyes are increasingly opened if we are faithful. We learn to see and hear Christ in the liturgy, to experience his ministry to us. The fact that he vanishes from their sight teaches us that he is no longer seen by the eyes of the flesh, but by the eyes of faith and the eyes of the heart. So though he is gone from our earthly, fleshly, carnal sight, he is now to be seen in the Sacrament of the Altar, and experienced in the liturgy and other sacraments. The Mass has reached it's pinnacle, for these two disciples and for us.

Dismissal Rite

Not able to contain their joy or hide their experience the two disciples run seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell their brethren what had happened and how they encountered Jesus in the breaking of the bread. They want to, have to, speak of the Christ they have encountered, what he said and what he did. How about us? At the end of every Mass the priest or deacon says "The Mass is ended, go in peace." This does NOT mean, "OK, we're done here, go on home and haver nice day." What it DOES mean is: "Go now into the world and bring the Christ you have received to others. Tell them what you have heard and seen here, what you have experienced. Share the joy and hope that this Liturgy gives with others." Perhaps you can see the word MISSion in the word disMISSal? You are being commissioned, sent on a mission to announce Christ to others. The Lucan text we are reviewing says of these two disciples: So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them…..Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:33,35). How about us. Does our Mass finish as well, as enthusiastically?

So there it is, the Mass on the Move. For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, this resurrection account is unmistakably a Mass. True; it is in seminal form, but all the elements are there. The teaching is clear, the risen Lord Jesus is now to be found in the Liturgy and the Sacraments. It is for us only to have our eyes opened and to recognize him there.

Emmaus: From Despair to Joy

by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

What a disappointment! They thought they'd found the Messiah. But he'd been trapped like an animal and executed as a criminal. Up until his very last breath, they had hoped he'd descend from the cross in stately power and call down fire upon the hypocrites.

But all they heard from him were seven last "words" that were more like anguished whispers. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" Pitiful, really. Not to mention depressing.

As they walked and argued about how things should have turned out differently, a stranger invited himself to walk with them. Great. They really weren't in the mood to make friends. To make matters worse, this guy apparently lived in a cave-he was clueless about what everyone else couldn't stop talking about.

At least that's what they assumed at first glance. But it turns out he knew more than they did about these events. Because he started showing them how everything that happened, as dreadful as it all seemed, was no accident. That hoarse whisper about being forsaken by God was actually a quote from a psalm (22) that predicted nearly everything that happened, down to the gambling for his cloak. Isaiah 53 had shown that Israel would not be saved by horses and chariots, but by the sufferings of an innocent man. Hosea 6:2 said that on the third day God would raise us up. He brought forth Scripture after Scripture to cast new light on the entire situation. They began to see things differently.

They didn't want him to stop. Just being near him somehow gave them strength and hope. So they pressed him to stop at the inn with them and have a bite to eat. The stranger said grace. Suddenly, as he broke the bread, they recognized Him. Of course! The women's story was true! Only Jesus could make them feel like they did! But as soon as they recognized him, he vanished.

It was no ordinary grace before meals that the Lord had offered that evening in Emmaus. Compare the words used here to the words used at the last supper: he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples (Luke 22:19). It was in the sacrament of his body and blood that they finally recognized him.

Keep in mind, this story was not written down till decades later, by a someone who had faithfully lived the eucharistic life of the early church. He is teaching through this episode what the eucharistic liturgy is really about. We often come distracted, rejected, beaten up by the world. But then the Lord himself begins to speak to us through the Scriptures, the inspired word of God. Have you ever noticed how so often the first reading and the Gospel fit so perfectly together? That's because the Tradition of the Church has coordinated the readings so that what Jesus showed to Cleopas and his buddy — the connections between Old Testament prophecy and fulfillment in Christ — become apparent to us too. If we are paying any attention at all, our faith is built up, our spirit renewed. Thus prepared, we move from the table of the Word to the table of the Eucharist. And there we come truly to see and recognize the One all the scriptures tell us about.

One of my children once asked me why, if the Mass makes Calvary present again, we don't have our weekly mass of obligation on Friday rather than Sunday. Good question. It is because the Eucharist is always a celebration of the resurrection. That's why the full Eucharistic liturgy is forbidden on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Sunday is the day he rose from the dead and it is the Risen Lord who stands among us in each and every Eucharist. And it is his risen, glorified body that we receive when we take communion.

To be an Easter people means to be a eucharistic people. He did not just rise from the dead 2000 years ago. He is risen, and He still is Emmanuel, God with us.

Source: Catholic Lane

Home to Emmaus

by The Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

This has long been one of my favorite pieces of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps that is because I can just picture Cleopas and the other disciple walking with their heads down, trying to make sense of all that had been theirs to see and hear, especially in those last several days. We know nothing more of them, of course. They are not part of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples -- at least we have not heard them named before now. And yet they have been close enough to these astonishing events that they know it all --- right down to the witness of the women at the tomb early that morning. Even so, they have decided not to stay behind closed doors with the others. Apparently they have seen enough and they have decided it's time to go home.

I get that. Indeed, as I was thinking through this story again in these last days I was taken back to a journey I took a long time ago. One that held some things in common with the walk these disciples found themselves on.

I was twenty-two years old --- a senior in college. It was early May and I was wrapping up my time in that place which had been gift and delight to me for four years. The call came that our beloved cousin, Susan, had died after a courageous battle with cancer. She was just shy of thirty years old. And so early in the morning in the middle of the week my sister and I drove from Iowa to Wisconsin for her funeral. We turned around and drove back that night so as to only miss one day of class.

Only my heart wasn't there on that college campus which had been my home for four years. And so on Friday afternoon, we packed up our things again and we drove home to Illinois for the week-end. Home where we had grown up. Home where my folks still lived. Home to the safest place in all the world. For you see, there was simply nowhere else I wanted to be, no place else I needed to be then..

Looking back I know that was because with that death, the world no longer looked the same to me. Oh, I had experienced losses before, but none like this. None that so clearly and painfully brought home the truth that sometimes terrible things happen to those who seem to deserve them least. That not all deaths are good ones. And that sometimes, some regrets never really go away. For time, at least here among us, can run out. Which it had for me. For it is so that, in my busyness that year, through the worst of her illness, I never went to see her.

So yes, I have a window into the walk that Cleopas and his traveling companion shared that first Easter day. Their world had also been turned upside down. And not only once of course for nothing was ever to be the same again when they left their lives behind to follow Jesus in the first place. And now it's turned over again. Having followed him all the way to Jerusalem, they've seen it all come to a horrific end. Indeed, we can be certain that their walk home was marked by grief and confusion. And yes, I do expect that they, like the other disciples, were now also living with a sense of regret for all they did not do that they could have, should have done. As they make their way towards home they are left only with their memory and every trudging step this must have caused them pain. Even though they, too, had heard the outrageous rumor that Jesus was not dead after all, they were still going home. Back to the familiar, the safe, the comfortable. Back to people who knew and loved them before their worlds had turned upside down.

Only while perhaps all they wanted to do was go home, home is clearly not where they were meant to be. Indeed, even as this part of the story begins, it is evident that while they may have left Jerusalem behind, what they had seen and heard there wasn't leaving them. Even while they are making their way towards home, they are pursued by their still raw memories and pretty soon it is clear that they are also pursued by Jesus himself. Even though they don't know it yet.

Of course, before the night was done, they would know exactly who it was who walked them home. And before that night was past, they will have retraced their steps all the way back to Jerusalem. Only this time they run --- eager as they are to share what they have seen and heard!

A long time ago I took the sort of journey those disciples did as they walked to Emmaus. I know what it is to only want to be home. To gather with others who knew the loss I had known and to find the start of healing among them in that safe and familiar place. I expect that as they made their way, Cleopas and his companion expected the same. Only it was not to be. Indeed, their healing and hope was theirs to be found in the very place they had just left behind. Among others who had walked the same path, who had followed the same hope, who shared the same regrets, and who had staked their lives and their hearts on the life of Jesus. Their home was no longer in Emmaus. Their home was wherever it was they would meet Jesus next. And that could be anywhere.

Now I have to say that more than thirty years ago, we did not meet Jesus on the highway as we drove home late on a Friday night in May. Not the way these disciples did. And yet, I expect we did meet him in the companionship and tears and laughter we shared with one another as the miles passed. And yes, I expect we did encounter Jesus as together we recalled a life marked by both joy and struggle --- a life which had been shaped and grounded in faith. And, to be sure, I expect we did meet Jesus as we were gathered in and cared for and fed before we were sent on our way again back to the lives we were meant to live from there on out. I knew those were true even then.

But this is what came to me later. As I looked back I could see that, in fact, my heart was burning within me even then as I received gifts I would turn to again and again and again. For in the years since I have realized that I have met Jesus over and over again when the next time and the time after that came and I remembered how important it is to go when called: for time can, indeed, run out in this life. Oh, I have met Jesus over and over again when I have walked into pain instead of coming up with a convenient excuse to avoid it altogether: as I'm afraid I did so long ago. As Jesus did.

And surely I have met him, also, whenever I have experienced the forgiveness of others when I have failed to do and be all that I should. Indeed, this was so even the day of Susan's funeral so long ago. This is how I remember it. We pulled up to the church and found our way in. Her now too thin body lay there in the casket in the narthex --- her head wrapped in a scarf. I was simply overcome. And as my tears of grief and fear and yes, regret fell, my cousin, her brother, Marty came up beside me and speaking gently he said, 'She loved you, you know.' It was a moment of pure grace which I will never forget. Yes, Jesus was there in that and every time like it since.

And yes, I have met Jesus, too, whenever we gather at the table as Cleopas and his traveling companion did so long ago. I meet Jesus again whenever I speak words recalling all the "choirs of angels" who join us when we break the bread and pour the wine. For I know that Susan and so very many like her are among them. And I meet Jesus again when I hear and repeat the promise that the promises of forgiveness and life are 'for you and for you and for you.' And as they are repeated back to me as well. As it was so long ago when I stood weeping at her casket. Oh yes, as Jesus was known then in the breaking of the bread, he still is. Every single time. He always is.

Like Cleopas and the other disciple, have you ever walked a road to Emmaus? What do you recall about the journey?

Did you meet Jesus on the way? How was this so?

As you look back, can you recognize now how your heart was 'burning within you?' What do you know now that you did not quite know then? How has it changed your life, your living?

Source: Dancing with the Word

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