One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 08, 2007

For Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Luke 24:13-35

Why were two disciples leaving Jerusalem and going to Emmaus?
Had they given up?
The one they called “Jesus the Nazarene” had been put to death on Friday.
Now, on Sunday, they have heard that some of the women among the disciples had found his tomb empty early that morning, and had seen angels who announced that he was alive.
Did these two disciples on the road to Emmaus doubt the reports?
As they walked, the two were “debating”— as the Gospel tells us.
Perhaps they just didn’t know what to think or believe.
Whatever the case might have been, they were now “leaving the Church,” as it were— leaving behind the apostles and the other disciples of Jesus.
Jesus went after them.
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?”

Surely Jesus already knew what they were talking about.
One of them replied.
Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?

Jesus could have told them, “I am the only visitor to Jerusalem who REALLY KNOWS the things that have taken place there.”
Instead, Jesus asks them what has taken place in Jerusalem.
He is carefully setting them up.
They begin to tell him all about “Jesus the Nazarene”— without recognizing that he IS Jesus the Nazarene.
Strangely, he does not interrupt them.
He chooses not to tell them he is the one of whom they speak.
Even as he shows how the Scriptures foretold everything about himself, they still do not recognize it is he himself who is speaking to them.
He chooses not to open their eyes yet.
That will come later at a very special moment.
In the meantime, their hearts are burning within them as he speaks and explains the Scriptures.
They don’t yet recognize who he is, but it warms their hearts to hear him.
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....”

What if they had not asked him to stay with them?
He would not have presided over the bread and opened their eyes to recognize him.
That day they would have had no reason to rush back to Jerusalem— no reason to come back to the Church.
However, these two DID ask him to stay with them— still without recognizing him.
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?"

Their hearts warmed up as he spoke, but their eyes did not recognize him.
Only when he presided over the blessing and breaking of bread did they recognize him.
We recognize him still whenever he breaks the reality of bread and wine to make them really become his Body and Blood.
The two disciples in Emmaus recognized him.
“So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together” the Church— the apostles and other disciples.
Before the two from Emmaus could open their mouths to tell their story, the Church in Jerusalem greeted them with the words:
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

Note well that the members of the Church did not say, “WE have seen the Lord.”
Rather, the members of the Church say that SIMON PETER has seen the Lord.
On the first day of the Resurrection, the testimony of Pope Peter the First is enough motive for the Church to announce:
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

In the Gospel today, we have at least two challenging invitations for our faith.
Jesus chose not to tell the two disciples on the way who he was.
Rather, he gave them recognition when he presided over the breaking of bread.
With Eucharistic recognition, those two left Emmaus and ran back to the Church.
The Church’s celebration of the Resurrection did not begin with any Church-wide encounter with the Risen Lord.
Rather, the Church began to celebrate the Resurrection as soon as Pope Peter testified to it.
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

The Church received both the Eucharist and the apostolic testimony of Peter long before the Church wrote down a single word of the New Testament.
Jesus— on the day he rose from the dead— warmed the hearts of two disciples by opening the meaning of all the scriptures for them, showing them that everything pointed to himself.
The present successor of Simon Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, continues to explain the word of God, revealing Christ to us in the Scriptures and the Eucharist.
Let us never fail to recognize that the Eucharist is Christ in person.
Doing so, let us always run to the Church, where the successors of Peter have always testified:
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

That God Be Glorified in All


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