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Monday, May 9, 2011

Observations on the Road to Emmaus

Just a few thoughts on Sunday's Gospel reading at Mass about the two men on the road to Emmaus in John 24.

Note: these are just thoughts that popped into my head during the reading. I have not yet had time really delve into these, so they may not reflect correct Catholic doctrine.

Notice that these two disciples had been with the apostles earlier in the day (this is still Easter Sunday) as they already know that the women had seen the empty tomb, told the apostles, and Peter and John (at least) had gone to the tomb to see for themselves.

Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem. When they arrived it was getting dark. That would have been about 4:30 or 5pm. That would be about a 3 ½ hour walk so they would have left Jerusalem probably no later than 1pm.
Jesus meets them on the way, but they don’t recognize him. Why? Is his physical appearance different? Is his face veiled? Can they not see the wounds in his hands?

Who is Cleopas? Is he the same as Cleophas in John 19:25? If so, he may be the father of James the Less. His father was Alphaeus, a possible translation of Cleophas.

Who is the other disciple?

This is the first and only recorded time (I think) that Jesus broke bread with any of his disciples outside of his Last Supper, which was only 3 days before (by our modern conventions of reckoning time).

Were these disciples in the upper room with Jesus at the Last Supper? Likely not. It appears that only the apostles, and possibly Mary (not mentioned) were there.

They recognized Jesus only in the breaking of the bread. How can this be if the Eucharist is a symbol only? If it is only a piece of bread, how could it have made Jesus real to them if they were not in the Upper room with him and to recognize the action and correlate it with what happened only a couple of days ago? How likely is it in on Saturday or early Sunday, that the Apostles told these men about how the Lord changed the Passover rite into the Rite of the Eucharist? The Apostles themselves still had not yet made the connection.

Or did they recognize him because receiving his flesh and blood made them one with him—true communion, just as woman receives her husband and becomes one with him?

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