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Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’s 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, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ 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. As they approached the village to which they were going, 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.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, 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 where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my mind to understand these holy words of Scripture. Let them penetrate deep into my heart. May your presence in the word remain with me today and always.
- Understanding Salvation History: Reading the Old Testament is very important to understanding Christ. Jesus helped his disciples on the road to Emmaus to understand the Old Testament Scriptures that pointed to his coming, mission, and final redemptive gift of himself on the Cross. He was surprised at their lack of belief and perhaps at their knowledge of the Scriptures: “How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” Later, when he appeared in the Upper Room, he did the same thing for his Apostles. He helped open their minds to understand his words: “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44). Our first Mass reading tomorrow from the Acts of the Apostles (3:11-26) shows Peter imitating Christ in this way. He showed the people how the patriarchs–Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–were part of salvation history, and how Moses and Samuel prophesied about Christ and how he was to suffer. These Old Testament accounts are meant to be read through the lens of salvation history. Jesus is truly present in his word, both the Old and New Testaments. If we ignore the Old Testament, we are ignoring a huge part of the word of Christ. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
- Called to Communion: These two disciples were journeying to Emmaus, away from the rest of the disciples. They were “downcast” and disappointed at the death of Jesus. But, as a Good Shepherd, Jesus called them back to the fold with his physical presence on that Easter Sunday. In the same way, when Catholics fall away from their communities in the Church, Jesus calls them back with his physical presence in the Eucharist. Many Catholics who return “home” to the faith say that they missed receiving Holy Communion. Do you notice how full the pews are on Easter Sunday compared to the other Sundays of the year? Perhaps this is because Jesus extends a special grace on the day of his Resurrection, calling lax Catholics and even interested and open-minded non-Catholics to come to him. This thought might help us feel more charitable about the crowd. Whether they were there before Easter or will come back next week, they were called to Mass on Easter Sunday and they answered that call. We can pray for all those who felt called to Communion on Easter, that they might come back this Sunday and the next.
- Remain in Him: Jesus revealed himself to them in the Eucharist. The disciples’ eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread. We can ask ourselves if we truly recognize Jesus in his real presence in the Eucharist. Did you know that according to a recent Pew Research study, only about half of all Catholics in the United States believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? There is much confusion about this teaching, yet Jesus told us plainly, without a parable, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:55-56). Notice here that the two disciples wanted Jesus to remain with them, asking, “Stay with us.” He agreed and then gave them Holy Communion. This is how we are to “remain” in him: by receiving the Eucharist worthily and frequently and by adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament. May Catholics everywhere appreciate the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist!
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. My physical eyes see bread, but the eyes of my soul see you. Lord Jesus, how you come to me in a humble piece of bread is still beyond the comprehension of my mind, but my soul knows and believes. Thank you for nourishing me with your very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Thank you for imbuing the Eucharist with your divine essence and for dwelling physically inside me, even for a few minutes. May I never neglect your Presence, but instead receive you with thanksgiving and joy.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for your holy presence to be recognized and adored in the Eucharist. I will make a visit to adore Jesus in the Eucharist or plan to make a special trip sometime this week.
For Further Reflection: Watch this video about a short book, Bible Basics for Catholics, that seeks to help people understand salvation history and how the Old Testament relates to Christ and the Eucharist.
Written by Carey Boyzuck.