Jesus Came to Save Persons, and Promised His Continued Presence

Walking with Christ: Do you know the way to Emmaus?

Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all things that had occurred. And it that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked among 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 in Jerusalem who does not know of the thigs 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 the 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 describe, 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 say 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.

Two things strike me about today’s Gospel. First, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were prevented from recognizing Jesus. Just as Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus with her eyes, but only when she heard His voice, these two disciples fail to recognize Jesus, though they’re lack of recognition continued even after He spoke with them. Why was this? I suppose there’s lots of speculation on the question. What interests me, however, is that the promise of the Resurrection will include a glorified body, such that we would be unrecognizable to others should they see us in our resurrected body. A priest told me once that, if I should see myself in the glorified body promised by the Resurrection, that body would be so glorified that I would be tempted to worship myself as a god! Well, becoming a god is not the promise of the Resurrection, but a glorified body is.

Those blessed to live long enough learn that the body we have as an older person is no longer the body we had as a younger person. We slow down. We weaken. Pain takes over certain parts of our bodies. Disease or chronic illness become part of who we are and force us to live lives we would not otherwise choose. Our bodies represent who we are as persons before each other and before God. I am my body. Others recognize me by my face and by other bodily characteristics, height and weight in particular (and, perhaps, unfortunately!). We are persons, and persons are body and soul. Jesus did not come to save souls; He came to save persons, and persons are body and soul. Spirit incarnate – this is who we are. The promise of a glorified body, one resurrected and renewed, is a happy promise! I look forward to it!

The other thing that strikes me about the Gospel today is how the two disciples did come to recognize Jesus, not by seeing Him or hearing Him, but in the breaking of the bread. We encounter Jesus in a number of ways in this life. We encounter Him in others – we are called to see all as Jesus and to treat all as we would treat Jesus. We fail so often, of course, but this doesn’t nullify the reality or our responsibility. We also encounter Jesus in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the word of God, and Jesus is the Word of God. So, when we read or hear the Scriptures, we are encountering both the word and the Word of God. This should not be lost on us. We ought to reverence the Scriptures properly as the word of God that they are and be conscious of the fact that we encounter Jesus there.

But we also encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in a way that is unique and unsurpassed. The Eucharist is Jesus’ gift to us of his continued presence among us and communion with us. If we want to be with Jesus, to sit with Him, we need only visit the closest tabernacle where the Eucharist is reserved. It is His Real Presence. This He promised, and we believe Him.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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