Peter and the apostles announce that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
God will show us the path of life.
1 Peter 1:17-21
You were saved by Christ’s sacrifice.
Jesus appears to two disciples who are walking to Emmaus.
Background on the Gospel Reading
On most Sundays during the Easter season in Cycle A, our Gospel is taken from the Gospel of John. This week’s Gospel, however, is taken from the Gospel of Luke. As in last week’s Gospel, today’s Gospel shows us how the first community of disciples came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. In these stories we gain insight into how the community of the Church came to be formed.
When we read today’s Gospel, we may be surprised to learn that these friends of Jesus could walk and converse with him at some length yet not recognize him. Again we discover that the risen Jesus is not always easily recognized. Cleopas and the other disciple walk with a person whom they believe to be a stranger; only later do they discover that the stranger is Jesus. We learn that the first community met and recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, just as we meet Jesus in the Eucharist.
We can imagine the feelings of the two disciples in today’s reading. They are leaving their community in Jerusalem. Their friend Jesus has been crucified. Their hope is gone. They are trying to make sense of what has occurred, so that they can put the experience behind them.
Jesus himself approaches the two men, but they take him for a stranger. Jesus asks them what they are discussing. He invites them to share their experience and interpretation of the events surrounding his crucifixion and death. When the two disciples have done so, Jesus offers his own interpretation of his crucifixion and resurrection, citing Jewish Scripture. In that encounter we find the model for our Liturgy of the Word—what we do each time we gather as a community for the Eucharist. We reflect upon our life experiences and interpret them in light of Scripture. We gather together to break open the Word of God.
In the next part of the story, we find a model for our Liturgy of the Eucharist. The disciples invite the stranger (Jesus) to stay with them. During the meal in which they share in the breaking of the bread, the disciples’ eyes are opened; they recognize the stranger as Jesus. In the Eucharist too we share in the breaking of the bread and discover Jesus in our midst. Just as the disciples returned to Jerusalem to recount their experience to the other disciples, we too are sent from our Eucharistic gathering. Our experience of Jesus in the Eucharist compels us to share the story with others.