SUNDAY’S READINGS | April 18, 2021
“Two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things [concerning Jesus] that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:13-16).
Jesus asked questions, listened, and interpreted the Scriptures concerning himself. Still, they did not recognize him. As evening drew near, the disciples urged Jesus to stay with them and share a meal. “When he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were open, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-31).
Suddenly, he vanished from their sight, and the disciples asked themselves, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
The two disciples returned to Jerusalem to report to the others. “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them” (Luke 24:36). Still, they did not truly recognize him. “They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost” (Luke 24:37).
Even as the Risen Lord reveals himself, his disciples do not, at first, know him. They are overwhelmed by a sense of lost hope, the terror of what may come, and the confusion of disbelief. We sometimes feel just as they did. However, we do not remain in sorrow, fear, and doubt forever because Jesus shows himself to us, as to them, alive in his body.
“Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost goes not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Jesus reveals himself in the breaking of bread; he eats broiled fish as a living human being.
We are among those who have not seen and yet believe. And yet with the eyes of our faith opened, “we may behold him in all his redeeming work” (Collect). We see him in Scripture, the breaking of bread, his hand, his feet, his side, flesh, and bones. Again and again, Scripture and tradition use realistic and graphic language when speaking of the Lord.
This passage from St. Irenaeus is but one early example: “If flesh may not be saved, neither has the Lord redeemed us with his blood, nor is the chalice of the Eucharist a communion of his blood, nor is the bread we break a communion of his body. Indeed, blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatever else makes up the substance of a human being. The Word of God became all of this and redeemed us by his blood … and because we are his members, and we are nourished through creation, he himself gives creation to us. … The cup, which is part of creation, he calls his own blood, from which our blood increases; and the bread, which is from creation, he calls his body, from which our bodies increase” (Against Heresies, Lib. 5, 2, 2).
The Risen Lord is made of flesh and bone; he stands among his disciples as a living human raised from the dead forevermore. Through the holy catholic Church, the body and blood of Christ come to us in sacramental form, not only to strengthen our faith but even, in some sense, to increase our blood and body, thereby making Christ incarnate in us. In this way, we feel Christ and know him in our flesh and bones, blood and breath.
Look It Up: Luke 24:40
Think About It: See the wounds in his risen body. Listen as he says, “It is I myself.”