The readings for the Sundays of Easter describe in parallel the encounters of the Risen Lord with his closest disciples and the impact of their preaching on the wider community. This parallel underlines the most important aspect of the Resurrection. When the Apostles encountered the Risen Christ they themselves were transformed in the power of the Risen Lord. When Peter and the other Apostles began their proclamation of the Resurrection, those who responded in faith experienced the power of the Risen Lord at work within them. Our affirmation of the Resurrection is not a cold statistic of faith, it is a life-giving engagement with the Risen Lord.
St Luke’s account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus describes the manner in which the power of the Resurrection is at work within us. The Gospel describes the two disciples as they left Jerusalem on their way to the village of Emmaus. They were discussing all that they had witnessed in Jerusalem. At a safe distance they had witnessed the arrest, trial and death of Jesus. They had even heard reports of his Resurrection.
We are left with the impression that all that they had seen and heard had made no difference. They were leaving Jerusalem untouched by the momentous events that they had witnessed.
The Risen Lord joined them on the road and inquired about their discussion. They failed to recognise him. It was as if their eyes were closed. This failure to recognise the Risen Lord, repeated in other accounts, is
an important detail. It is only through the grace of the Risen Lord that our eyes are opened, that we are enabled to respond to his presence.
Possibly we, like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, remain unmoved by the mysteries we have so recently celebrated during Holy Week. Let us pray that the work of Christ’s Resurrection may be completed in us, as it was completed in those disciples on their journey to Emmaus.
Jesus responded to their indifference by opening the scriptures to them. We are told that, beginning with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them all the passages that were about himself. This was more than an enlightenment of the mind. The power of the Risen Lord opened their hearts, enabling them to understand their Risen Lord in the Scriptures. “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us.” We also encounter Christ in a prayerful reading of the scriptures, and it is his Spirit, at work within us, that enables us to understand our lives in the Living Word of the scriptures.
At the end of the journey the disciples pressed the still-unrecognised Jesus to remain with them. While he was with them at table he took the bread, blessed it and handed it to them. “Their eyes were opened and they recognised him in the breaking of bread.”
In our journey through life the presence of Christ is frequently hidden. Whenever we come to the celebration of the Eucharist, Christ presents himself to us as he presented himself to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The Liturgy of the Word is a dialogue in which the Risen Lord summons us to himself. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist Christ is the sacrifice that makes us whole, the communion that feeds the soul and leads us to the Father.