DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTION
Wednesday, Octave of Easter – 15 April 2020
Acts 3:1-10 – I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus, walk!
ONCE, when Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in.
When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’
He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’
Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God.
Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him.
Luke 24:13-35 – They recognised him at the breaking of bread
TWO of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened.
Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked.
‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified.
‘Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive.
‘Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.
Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’
Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
THE Story of Emmaus is a Christian classic that points to the Christian journey of faith and personal encounter with the Risen Lord. It is also a very Catholic story: The Risen Lord, His Word, His Eucharist, the source and heart of life for the baptized. The Holy Mass.
We must remember that Easter Season is the time when the newly baptized, the neophytes, celebrate the Word and the Eucharist, reflecting and savouring the great saving mysteries they have just received in the Sacraments of Initiation crowned by the Breaking of Bread in which they took part fully for the first time.
Easter is continuing catechesis/instruction by way of “mystagogy”, interpreting and learning for life the saving Mysteries they have just received and experienced (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist).
The Emmaus story began with Cleopas and another disciple of Jesus leaving Jerusalem walking home to Emmaus, completely dejected and talking about their deep disappointment over the recent events of their Master’s tragic end.
Their political and military hopes that Jesus would set Israel free from the Romans were all but dashed. It was late afternoon on Sunday, two full days after the crucifixion.
In Jerusalem since that Sunday morning they had heard of sensational reports that declared Jesus to be alive. But in their morbid defeat such news did not lift their spirit.
Jesus came, joined them, walking along by their side, but something (not less their deep human disappointment, misunderstanding and lack of faith) prevented them from recognizing Him.
He got into their conversation but completely disregarded their reading of the recent events. Rather, He led them through the scriptures step-by-step trying to make them understand that the Messiah had always been ordained/destined to suffer but would enter into His glory.
Jesus knew what He was talking about. He was talking about Himself. After all, ALL scripture, the law and the prophets, were written about Him. He is the Word, Incarnate and Risen.
When Jesus did them the honours of staying the night with them at Emmaus, the miracle happened. It took place at dinner at a flash when Jesus took the bread and said the blessing. Their eyes were instantly opened.
They recognized the Risen Lord at the Breaking of Bread, the Eucharist. Jesus vanished. This instant recognition had a stunning reverse effect. ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They connected. It had been the same risen and living Lord who had spoken to them! They rose instantly, left the table, and started the journey back to Jerusalem completely incapable of keeping the Good News to themselves any longer.
From earliest times, the real presence of the Risen Lord in the Eucharist preceded by the Word He speaks, has become the norm and rule of Christian life.
As Catholics we have always believed that the grace to recognize and believe in the Risen Lord, is given us at the Table of His Word and the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the beginning and end of all Christian life and activities.
It sets the pattern of our discipleship, to always listen to His Word and join Him in the Breaking of Bread, the loving giving of Himself to others, in all the big and small concrete circumstances of our daily life.
It is not possible to join Him in His Sacrifice unless we listen and obey. It is not possible just to listen without recognizing Him by taking part in His Sacrifice. To listen and sacrifice our lives to God with Jesus at Mass is the Sacrament of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In the first reading, Peter and John in the name and power of the Risen Lord cured a man born crippled. From whence come such power? The Acts of the Apostles tells us exactly how they and the first Christian community lived and were empowered: “These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the BREAKING OF BREAD and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42).
Let’s earnestly pray that we shall soon be able to return to church and together listen to the Risen Lord and celebrate the Breaking of Bread in the Holy Mass!
Cover Image: Christ at Emmaus by Rembrandt, 1648, Louvre
Quote Image: Gang nach Emmaus, Robert Zünd, 1877