Emmaus Road – Journey From Despair to Joy

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year A); Acts 2:14, 22-28; Ps 16; I Pet 1:17-21; & Lk 24:13-35

Road to Emmaus

Road to Emmaus

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 last seven “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.  Is 53 had shown that Israel would not be saved by horses and chariots, but by the sufferings of an innocent man.   Hos 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 (Lk 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 the connections that Jesus showed to Cleopas and his buddy 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.


Acknowledgement

This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on Acts 2:14, 22-28; Ps 16; I Pet 1:17-21; & Lk 24:13-35, the Mass readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, year A.  It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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