3rd SUNDAY IN EASTER (Cycle A)

Readings:
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1a, 2, 5, 7-10
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

All Scripture passages are from the New American Bible unless designated NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation). CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).

God's divine plan for mankind is revealed in the two Testaments and that is why we reread and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy. The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).

The Theme of this Sunday's Readings: Word and Sacrament
Our Christian faith is nourished by the ministry of God's word through the Liturgy of the Word in the first part of the Mass, after which the sacred word is explained to us in the priest's homily. But our participation in the Mass does not reach its fulfillment until the Liturgy of the Eucharist when we experience the living Christ in the "breaking of the bread" like the Emmaus disciples on Resurrection Sunday.

In the First Reading, on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus' Resurrection, St. Peter addresses a Jewish crowd after the miracle of God the Holy Spirit filling and indwelling the disciples gathered in the Upper Room of the Last Supper (Acts 2:1-13). In delivering the address, St. Peter exercised his role as the Vicar of Christ and the ordained leader of the Church (Mt 16:17-19). This is the first of the homilies Peter delivered giving the kerygma (Greek for "proclamation") of the Gospel message of salvation (Acts 2:14-39; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:34-43). Each of Peter's homilies delivered the substance of the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, the theme of which we proclaim in the Second Memorial Acclamation at Mass: "Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory!"

The Responsorial Psalm is a psalm of David in which God saves His "chosen one" from destruction. St. Peter applied this psalm to God's supreme "Chosen One, Jesus Christ, in his homily on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:25-33) in our First Reading, quoting Psalm 116:8-11 from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Peter's point is that David was speaking prophetically of Jesus, son of David (Mt 1:1), Son of God since Jesus fulfilled David's psalm. God preserved His "Chosen One" when He raised Jesus from the dead according to His Divine Plan to show all who believe in Jesus the pathway to eternal life.

In the Second Reading, St. Peter describes the effect Christ's death and resurrection has on believers in terms of the Egyptian Passover liberation. The Christian's faith journey is like the Exodus Passover experience of Israel. Christians are sojourners in a strange land who are delivered by the blood of an unblemished Passover victim: Jesus Christ. We first experience His deliverance passing through the waters of Baptism just as the Israelites passed from slavery through the waters of the Red Sea to become a free people who journeyed to the Promise Land. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are transformed from someone enslaved to sin and death into a new creation in Christ, and we make our way on our faith journey through this earthly life on our way to the Promised Land of Heaven. We have hope and faith in our final deliverance from the sufferings of our temporal existence because God raised Jesus from the dead according to the set plan and foreknowledge that was determined before the creation of the world.

In today's Gospel, Jesus' disciples respond to both God's word in Sacred Scripture and to God's sacramental sign in recognizing Jesus in the "breaking of the bread." This is a reversal of the condition of Adam and Eve when their "eyes were opened" to sin. The wording "their eyes were opened" is the same in the Greek translation account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:7 as in Luke 24:31 and 35. Jesus "opened" the Scriptures to them in the same way that He brought about the "opening" of their eyes in the breaking of the bread. The miracle continues as the eyes of the faithful in every generation continue to be opened to Christ in the breaking of the bread in the Eucharist.

Do you recognize that Christ the Lord is "risen today"? Do you share your experience of Christ with others by talking about the difference Jesus has made in your life? Have you considered joining a Bible Study to learn about how God's plan for man's salvation in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ so you will understand and recognize Christ like the Emmaus disciples in the "breaking of the bread" that becomes Christ in the Eucharist?

The First Reading Acts 2:14, 22-33 ~ The Death and Resurrection of the Christ is God's Divine Plan
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: "You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.  Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.  [..] 
22 You who are Israelites, hear these words.  Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in you midst, as you yourselves know.  23 This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.  24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death [Hades], because it was impossible for him to be held by it.  25 For David says of him:
'I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.  26 Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, 27 because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.  28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'
29 My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day.  30 But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld [Hades], nor did his flesh see corruption.  32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.  33 Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth, as you see and hear."  [..] = literal translation IBGE, vol. IV, pages 324-25.

The First Reading is from St. Peter's homily to the Jewish crowd on Pentecost Sunday as he exercises his role as the Vicar of Christ and the ordained leader of the Church (Mt 16:17-19).  He is addressing the crowd of Jews in the street after the miracle of God the Holy Spirit filling and indwelling the disciples of Jesus gathered in the Upper Room of the Last Supper on the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).  This is the first of the homilies Peter will deliver giving the kerygma (Greek for "proclamation") of the Gospel message of salvation (Acts 2:14-39; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:34-43).  Each address delivers the substance of the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, the theme of which we proclaim in the Second Memorial Acclamation at Mass: "Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.  Lord Jesus, come in glory!" 

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed ...
It is significant that verse 14 records Peter stood up with the "Eleven" Apostles since Mattathias has already been chose to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26) and the Apostles again number twelve.  He is one of "the Twelve" but here the emphasis is on Peter who is with but separate/stands alone from the other eleven.  He is one of twelve but the recognized leader of the eleven which is the first apostolic college of the Church.

Peter speaks as the leader of the apostolic body as he did in Acts 1:15 and continues to do in Acts 2:37; 3:4, 6, 12; 4:8, 13; 5:3, 8-9, 15, 29; chapters 10-11 and 15:7-11.  In Peter's homily to the Jewish crowd at Pentecost, he preaches as Jesus taught the Apostles and disciples on Resurrection Sunday in the Gospel of Luke chapter 24, referring to Sacred Scripture that is fulfilled in Jesus the promised Davidic Messiah (see Is 11:1-5, 10; Ez 34:23; 37:25; Mt 1:1).  In his address, St. Peter quotes from several Old Testament Scripture passages and applies them to the present situation.  He quotes from the book of the Prophet Joel (Acts 2:17-21) and from the Psalms of David (Acts 2:25-28 and 34-35).  All quotes and references to Old Testament Scripture appear to be from the Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of the Old Testament (some passages are the same in the Greek as in the Hebrew texts).  

Acts 2:22-24 ~ St.  Peter continues addressing the Crowd
22 "You who are Israelites, hear these words.  Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in you midst, as you yourselves know.  23 This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.  24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death [Hades*], because it was impossible for him to be held by it." 
"Hades" is the word used in the Greek text of Acts and refers to the grave or the netherworld.
For three years Jesus ministered to the "Israelites" (verse 22).  This is the inclusive term for all descendants of the twelve tribes and includes Galileans, Jews from Judea, and all those living outside the Holy Land in the diaspora of the Gentile world.  Peter tells them that it was God's Divine Plan that Jesus should suffer and die to be raised up from death: 23 This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God...  These events that transpired in the death and resurrection of Jesus, he says, they should understand from the prophecies in Sacred Scripture.   

Peter acknowledges that the Jews were responsible for the Messiah's death at the hands of the pagan Romans, but their actions were also part of God's plan since, God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death [Hades], because it was impossible for him to be held by it.  It is God who released Jesus from the state into which all the dead were destined to descend before the Resurrection of the Messiah: Hades in Greek and Sheol in Hebrew (also referred to in English translations as "the abode of the dead," "the grave," or "the netherworld" as in the NAB translation of Acts 2:27 and 31).  

Both the righteous and the wicked went to Sheol/Hades in death prior to the Advent of the Messiah.  It was a place of judgment and purification of sin, and a place to await the Messiah for the righteous.  Jesus describes the different conditions in Sheol/Hades for the righteous and the sinner in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31, and St. Peter taught that even the people who perished in the time of Noah had the hope of liberation by the promised Messiah (1 Pt 3:18-20; also see CCC 632-633; Sir 3:1-12 where verse 7 refers to the promised liberation of the righteous from Sheol described in 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6).  Upon His death Jesus descended into Sheol/Hades just like all humans because He was fully man, but Sheol/Hades could not hold Him because He was also fully God.

Acts 2:25-28 ~ King David's Prophecies of the Messiah
25 "For David says of him: 'I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.  26 Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, 27 because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.  28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' 
Continuing his theme of the prophecies that pointed to the coming of the Messiah and the new age Jesus was destined to inaugurate that are foretold in Sacred Scripture, Peter now turns to the Psalms.  According to Jewish tradition, King David was born and later died on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost c. 970 BC, so it is a very appropriate reference for the crowd.

 Peter begins by quoting first, without any additions or alterations, from Psalms 15:8-11 LXX (16:8-11 in the Hebrew translation in NAB) in Acts 2:25-28 (see the Psalm Reading in this lesson).  Psalm 16 is a psalm attributed to David in its title and is therefore understood to be a reflection of David's personal experience/understanding of God.  Viewing this quotation from the perspective of Jesus' Resurrection, the words and phrases appear to anticipate those God ordained events since, even in His darkest moments on the Cross, Jesus did not despair because He knew God was with Him, and He knew the promise of His bodily Resurrection from the dead.  His flesh was not abandoned to Hades nor did His Body suffer corruption (Ps 16:11 and quoted in Acts 2:27).  Jesus knew that it was the Father's plan that He was going to be resurrected and that He would ascend bodily to the Father, as He did in Acts 1:9-11 and which the disciples witnessed, as Peter mentions in verse 32.

 

Acts 2:29-33 ~ Peter Speaks of David's Foreknowledge of God's Plan
"My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day.  30 But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld [Hades] nor did his flesh see corruption.  32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.  33 Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you both see and hear." 
According to a long standing Christian tradition, dating back to the 4th century AD when St. Helena went to the Holy Land to identify the sites associated with Christ and the early Church, the Upper Room was built above the tomb of King David.  Most modern scholars dismiss this tradition, but in St. Peter's statement in verse 29 you can almost see him standing outside the house with the Upper Room and gesturing to the tomb of David on the first floor.  According the Scripture, David was buried in the holy city of Jerusalem (1 Kng 2:10), and according to the Jewish historian/priest Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD), there could be no graves in the holy city of Jerusalem except those of David and his family and the prophetess Huldah (Antiquities of the Jews, 7.15.3; 13.8.4; Jewish Wars, 1.2.5).

Acts 2:30 ~  But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne...
God made an eternal covenant with David and his descendants (see 1 Sam 7:12, 16; 23:5; Ps 89:21, 29-30; 110:1-5; 132:11-18; Sir 45:25).  The covenant was based on the unconditional promise that David's throne will endure forever and his descendant will rule an eternal kingdom.  The first to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messianic heir of David is the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation of the Christ in Luke 1:32-33 ~ He will be great and will be called  Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.  The Messianic title "son of David" was often applied to Jesus by others in the Gospels (see Mt 1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9, 15; Mk 12:35; Jn 7:42).

Acts 2:31-32 ~ ... he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld [Hades] nor did his flesh see corruption.  32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. 
Since God's anointed would not see "corruption" (Acts 2:27 and LXX 16:10) as is the case for all members of humanity, it can be assumed that David had foreknowledge of the Messianic heir's resurrection from the dead.  St. Peter's point is that this prophecy is fulfilled in no one else except Jesus of Nazareth and proves He is the Davidic Messiah, as he states in verse 32:  God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.  Under the Law, two or more witnesses are needed to establish a fact in a court of law (Dt 19:15), and here all the members of the Christian community are testifying to the truth of Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.

 

Acts 2:33 ~ Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you both see and hear. 
In fact, Peter tells them, they have proof of Jesus' true identity as the Son of God who sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven (position of honor and power) in what they have witnessed today in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the New Covenant Church of the restored Israel!

Responsorial Psalm 16:1a, 2, 5, 7-10 ~ God is the Path of Life
The response is: "Lord, you will show us the path of life."

1a Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  2 I say to the LORD, "My LORD are you."
5 O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.
Response
7 I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.  8 I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Response
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; 10 because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld [Sheol], nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
Response
11 You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
Response

Psalm 16 is a psalm of David which describes God saving His "chosen one" from destruction.
The psalmist begins his prayer with a plea for the Lord's protection (verse 1a).  In verse 5 he declares that he has chosen to worship and to trust in the Lord and to share in His holiness.  The psalmist says he will stay true to God and in verses 7-10 he offers God praise and blessings for the graces that comes from God to him and to those who devote themselves completely to Him:

St. Peter applied this psalm to God's supreme "Chosen One, Jesus Christ, in his homily on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:25-33) in our First Reading, quoting Psalm 116:8-11 from the LXX translation of the Old Testament.  Peter's point is that David was speaking prophetically of Jesus since this psalm is fulfilled in God the Son.  God raised Jesus from the dead according to His Divine Plan to show all who believe in Jesus the pathway to eternal life.

The Second Reading 1 Peter 1:17-21 ~ Christian Conduct
17 If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one's works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, 18 realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold 19 but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.  20 He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, 21 who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

St. Peter describes the effect Christ's death and resurrection has on believers in terms of the first Passover.  The Christian's faith journey is like the Exodus Passover experience of Israel.  Christians are sojourners in a strange land who have been delivered by the blood of a spotless Passover lamb: Jesus Christ.  We first experience His deliverance in the Sacrament of Baptism, as we make our way on our faith journey through this earthly life.  We have hope and faith in our final deliverance from the sufferings of this temporal existence because God raised Jesus from the dead according to the set plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23) that was determined before the creation of the world (1 Pt 1:20).  Earthly treasures are perishable, but Christ has given us an imperishable gift.  The redemption by the blood of Christ and Jesus' Resurrection to glory that was God the Father's eternal plan is the way God has consecrated His New Covenant people who through faith have the hope of their future eternal resurrection.

The Gospel of Luke 24:13-35 ~ Recognizing Christ in the Eucharist
13 That very day two of them were going to a village seven miles [sixty stadia] from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.  14 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented [held/bound] from recognizing him [not to recognize (epiginosoko) him].  17 He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?"  They stopped, looking downcast.  18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"  19 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, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.  21 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.  22 Some women from our group [from among us], however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 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.  24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."  25 And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.  28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.  29 But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."  So he went in to stay with them.  30 And it happened that, while he was [reclining] with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized [epiginosoko] him, but he vanished from their sight.  32 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?"  33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"  35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them [opened their eyes] in the breaking of the bread.  [..] = literal translation IBGE, vol. IV, page 244-45.

Luke 24:13-16 ~ That very day two of them were going to a village seven miles [sixty stadia] from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.  14 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented [held/bound] from recognizing him [not to recognize (epiginosoko) him]. 
It is still Resurrection Sunday and the glorified Christ meets two of His disciples on their journey from Jerusalem to their home village.  St. Mark mentions this meeting with the Emmaus disciples and also Jesus' appearance later to the eleven in the Upper Room in Jerusalem (Mk 16:12-17), but in Luke 24:13-35, St. Luke records an encounter between the resurrected Christ and the two Emmaus disciples that is only found in the Gospel of Luke

Luke 24:17-18 ~ 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?"  They stopped, looking downcast.  18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" 
One of the disciples is a man named Cleopas (his name is also spelled Clopas and Cleophas; see Jn 19:25).  According the Church Fathers, Cleopas was a kinsman of Jesus and the father of Simon/Simeon, the second Christian Bishop of Jerusalem.  The early Church historian Hegesippus (early to mid-2nd century AD) records that Cleopas was the uncle of Jesus and the brother or brother-in-law of St. Joseph (Church History, Book IV, chapter 22; Church History, III.11.1 page 146).  Jesus' disciple, Mary of Cleopas/Clopas, is either Cleopas' wife or daughter

The two disciples are broken-hearted over the events of the past three days and appear to doubt the testimony of the women as well as Peter and John's report (Jn 20:1-8) concerning the empty tomb and the possibility that Jesus is raised from the dead.  The obvious question is why didn't they recognize Jesus as the man walking with them?  The literal Greek is "their eyes were held/bound [krateo] in order that they might not recognize/know/perceive [epiginosoko] him" (Johnson, page 393; IBGE, page 244).  In other words, they were prevented from recognizing Jesus.  He clouded their eyes in the same way that their faith in comprehending His resurrection has been clouded.  This condition of their "held eyes" will be reversed in verse 31. 

Luke 24:19 ~ 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, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.  21 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.  22 Some women from our group [from among us], however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 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.  24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."
The disciples refer to Jesus as a "prophet."  St. Luke will refer to Jesus as a "prophet" five times in his Gospel (4:24; 7:16, 39; 13:33; 24:19) and three times in Acts (Acts 3:22-23; 7:37; 8:34-35) for a total of eight times.  It is a title that depicts Jesus as the new Moses of the new Exodus and the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:17-19 (see Lk 9:31 when Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus about His "exodus" from Jerusalem).  The two disciples express this same hope of a "new Moses" in verse 21 when they say they hoped that Jesus would be the one to "redeem" Israel.  It is a theme of redemption that St. Luke began in 1:68 and 2:38, but Jesus' "redemption of Israel" is to be understood in spiritual terms as the restored faithful of the covenant people of God (see Acts 13:23).  Notice that St. Luke confirms the visit of the women disciples to the tomb recorded in the other Gospels and Peter and John's visit to the empty tomb that was recorded John 20:1-10.

Luke 24:25-27 ~ And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.
The disciples share their misgivings concerning the events of the past week with their fellow traveler, and Jesus admonishes them for their doubts in verse 25, calling them "slow of heart."  We tend to think of the heart as the seat of emotion, but for the ancients the heart signified the center of intelligence and reason and the true moral essence of a person.

... to believe all that the prophets spoke! 
There are the two significant points not to be missed in Jesus' statement concerning belief about Him concerning the prophets:

  1. Belief in Jesus and His mission is connected to a proper understanding of the Scriptures.
  2. "All that the prophets spoke" implies that all of Scripture bears a prophetic and Messianic significance.

26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
Jesus' rhetorical question demands an affirmative answer and refers to God's Divine Plan for man's salvation in terms of the prophecies of God's "Suffering Servant," especially those described in Isaiah chapters 52-53.  To "enter into his glory" is the same as entering into His Kingdom.   Jesus then began to teach them, starting with the Torah (the five books of Moses from Genesis to Deuteronomy) and continuing with the Psalms (see Peter's reference to the Psalms 16:8-11 in our First Reading in Acts 2:29-30) and books of the prophets.  Jesus gave them a Scripture lesson on all the passages that were prophecies about Him and His mission of salvation.  This is why it is our Catholic tradition to Study the Old Testament in the light of Christ in the New Testament "for the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New" (St. Augustine, Quaest. in Hept, 2,73; see CCC 128-129).

Luke 24:28-29 ~ As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.  29 But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."  So he went in to stay with them. 
Since the Jewish day started at sundown, "evening" was any time from noon until twilight.  Notice that Jesus does not force Himself on them.  Christ is a gentleman; He waits for our invitation.

Luke 24:30 ~  And it happened that, while he was [reclining]*  with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  *The literal word is "reclining;" it was the way free men ate while slaves ate standing up.  They also reclined at the Last Supper.
Still not recognizing Jesus, they invite Him to their home to have dinner and to spend the night.  What takes place during the meal "opens their eyes" concerning the traveler's true identity.  There is a significant similarity between Jesus' actions at the meal with the Emmaus disciples and the events of the Lord's Supper in Luke 22:14-19:

Luke 22:14-19 (Lord's Supper) Luke 24:30 (Emmaus meal)
he took his place at table with the apostles while he was with them at table
Then he took the bread  he took the bread
said the blessing said the blessing
broke it and gave it to them broke it and gave it to them

Jesus' actions at the Emmaus meal are the very same actions of Jesus at the Lord's Last Supper as He took, blessed, and broke the bread (see Lk 22:19).  It was in the "breaking of the bread" that their spiritual eyes are opened and they recognize the Christ! 

Luke 24:31-32 ~ With that their eyes were opened and they recognized [epiginosoko] him, but he vanished from their sight.  32 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?"
This is the second use of the Greek word epiginosoko that was also used in verse 16.  In contrast to their eyes "being bound" in 24:16 and their failure to "recognize/know" [epiginosoko] Jesus, their eyes are now "opened."  They do not just "see" Jesus they "recognize/know" Him.
Recognizing the true Messianic significance of the Scriptures, they were also able to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

This is a reversal of the condition of Adam and Eve when their "eyes were opened" to sin.  The wording "their eyes were opened" is the same in the LXX translation account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:7 as in Luke 24:31 and 35.  Jesus "opened" the Scriptures to them in the same way that He brought about the "opening" of their eyes in the breaking of the bread in verse 31.  Now mankind's eyes in every generation will continue to be opened to Christ in the breaking of the bread in the Eucharist. 

Luke 24:33-35 ~  So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"  35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them [opened their eyes] in the breaking of the bread.  
They did what all of us must do when we recognize Jesus in the midst of our lives; they immediately wanted to share their experience of the Christ!  Do you recognize that Christ the Lord is "risen today" in your life?  Do you share your experience of Christ with others by talking about the difference Jesus has made in your life?  Have you considered joining a Bible Study to learn about how God's plan for man's salvation in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ so you will understand and recognize Christ like the Emmaus disciples in the "breaking of the bread" that becomes Christ in the Eucharist?  

Catechism References:
Acts 2:22 (CCC 547); 2:23 (CCC 597, 599); 2:24 (CCC 633, 648); 2:26-27 (CCC 627); 2:33 (CCC 659, 788)
Psalm 16:9-10 (CCC 627)
1 Peter 1:18-20 (CCC 602); 1:18-19 (CCC 517); 1:18 (CCC 622); 1:19 (CCC 613)
Luke 24:13-35 (CCC 1094, 1329, 1347); 25:15 (CCC 645, 659); 24:17 (CCC 643); 24:21 (CCC 439); 24:22-23 (CCC 640); 24:25-27 (CCC 112, 601); 24:26-27 (CCC 572, 652); 24:26 (CCC 555, 710); 24:26 (CCC 555, 710); 24:27 (CCC 555, 2625); 24:30 (CCC 645, 1166); 24:31 (CCC 659); 24:34 (CCC 552, 641)

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014