When Jesus was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Christ is Risen!
I have purposely split this Gospel passage (and two others of the eleven Eothinon Gospel set) into two pieces. The two Disciples, as we heard yesterday, shared a walk to the village of Emmaus with Jesus. They didn’t recognize Him. They were confused about the events of His death, and rumors of His Resurrection. He patiently interpreted the Scriptures to them concerning the things that had happened to Him. The Disciples, while still confused, invited Jesus to stay with them, though again, they did not know who He was.
When they sat down to eat, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them, the same way that He had done at the Last Supper when He instituted the Eucharist. Then they recognized Him and He vanished from their sight.
They knew Jesus through the Eucharist. Their eyes were opened. And they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road?”
There are three things I take away from today’s passage. First, there is a burning desire to know Christ. If Christ is the “true light who enlightens each person coming into the world,” (John 1:8) then each person, whether they know it or not, has the desire for Christ burning in them. Again, some may not know it. There is a yearning for truth, meaning, and hope. And this yearning is answered by knowing Christ. As for those who know Christ, there is a yearning to know Him on an even deeper level. Our hearts “burn within us” for the entirety of our lives as we seek to know who Christ is.
Second, Christ is made known to us in many ways. And perhaps the greatest way is through the Eucharist. No, walking up to the chalice each Sunday does not in itself reveal Christ to us. Receiving the Eucharist in the context of prayer, worship, fasting, charity, obedience to the commandments, and faith, this is how Christ becomes known to us. He is made known to us in the breaking of the bread, in the context of all the other things that are part of our preparation for and celebration of the Eucharist.
Finally, when Christ was revealed to the two Disciples, the Gospel tells us that they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem to tell everyone the good news, and how Christ was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. We read in the Gospel that it was toward the evening when this encounter occurred. It would have been dark and deserted walking seven miles back to Jerusalem. However, the Gospel is quick to point out that the disciples did not delay at all in going and sharing the Good News.
Our reaction to knowing Christ is supposed to be similar. We are supposed to go and tell others how Christ is made known to us. Again, if you don’t know Christ, or don’t know Him as well as you’d like, going back to yesterday, keep walking down the road, and find a friend who can walk the road with you, to whom you can speak about the things of Christ. And whatever you learn, do not be afraid to share with others. There are lots of people on the road to Emmaus, who desire to know who Christ is on a deeper level. There are lots of people who walk the road in confusion. And there are lots of people who are on the road but have no clue who Christ is. So, it is important that we hear about Christ, that we talk about Christ, and that we share Christ with those around us.
Receive the Body of Christ; taste from the immortal fount. Alleluia. (Communion hymn of the Paschal season, trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Hear the good news. Deepen your faith in the good news. Share the good news.