A Thought from the Bishop’s Chapel — Easter Wednesday, April 15

By far one of my favorite encounters with the Resurrected Lord appears in the Gospel of St. Luke.  Two disciples are on their way Easter Sunday to Emmaus.  St. Luke names only one of them, Cleopas, which can mean proclaimer in Greek.   As with Mary Magdalene, they do not recognize our Lord as he accompanies them on the road (Luke 24:15).  

The disciples are discouraged.   “[W]e were hoping,” they tell our Lord, “that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).   Instead, Jesus of Nazarene was condemned and crucified.   And now to further confound them, some women report seeing angels who told them He was alive.  Others have seen the empty tomb but not Him.  What are they to make of all this?

How often has the Christian believer been perplexed by the workings of the Lord?   And then what happens?  The Lord does exactly what He did for the two disciples.  He accompanies them, first with His Word, opening their minds to Him in the Scriptures (Luke 24:27), and then in taking the bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to them (Luke 24:30).   "[H]e was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).   For the early Christians “the breaking of the bread” (cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; I Corinthians 10:16) was a reference to the Eucharist.     

“Accompaniment,” the word we use to describe the encounter, is a popular term with a much richer significance.   [Theologically St. Thomas Aquinas uses the word, in Latin concomitantia, in reference to the Eucharist, when he explains how “the whole Christ is in this sacrament,” cf. Summa III, q. 76, a. 1.]   What happens on the road to Emmaus is the encounter of two disciples, not with a ghost or a phantom (Luke 24:39), but with the real Christ, fully resurrected, who accompanied them, made their hearts burn as He spoke (Luke 24:32) and “was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).   Never should we underestimate the power of the Lord and the Eucharistic encounter.