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Reflection on the Third Sunday of Easter

Posted on April 26, 2020, by Maureen McCormack SL

I love this Gospel (Luke 24:13-35), so many things about it, even the ring of the phrase “on the road to Emmaus.” So two of Jesus’ disciples were on the road to the village of Emmaus conversing about all the things that had occurred during these recent days. They had plenty of time to converse because Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem. Then an amazing thing happened, Jesus drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. We might ask ourselves how or whether we are prevented from recognizing Jesus in the circumstances of our lives. How are we dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic and what it requires of us in order to be safe and to keep others safe?

Jesus asked them what they were discussing as they walked along the way. One of them, named Cleopas, said in astonishment: “Are you the only one in all of Jerusalem who does not know what has happened there these past days?” I love the next part. Jesus replies, “What things?” This gave the disciples an opportunity to pour out their hearts to the stranger, how they honored Jesus as a prophet, how they loved him. And then the chief priests handed him over to be crucified. But now, they continued, some of the women from our group astounded us by saying they went to the tomb, did not find the body of Jesus but had a vision of angels announcing that Jesus was alive. He had risen. Of course, the two disciples and some of their companions had to run to the tomb to see for themselves what the women had said, not willing to rely on the women’s reporting. And they found things just as the women had described. Amazing! Right?

So the stranger, Jesus, said to them, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer all these things in order to enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all of the prophets, he interpreted for them the things that referred to him in the Scriptures. As they approached the village of Emmaus, he gave the impression that he was going farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in and stayed with them. While they were at table, he took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. But he vanished from their sight.

Oh no! Just when they recognized who he was, he was gone. I’ve always had a hard time understanding why he vanished from their sight at that precise moment. Wouldn’t that have been the perfect time for them to be together, to rejoice in his presence, to tell him how much they missed him, to ask him about all the things they still did not understand, to tell him how much they loved him? But our ways are not God’s ways. There is still so much we do not understand.

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?” So they hurried back to Jerusalem where the 11 Apostles and those with them were gathered and saying, “Jesus is truly risen and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two disciples added their amazing story about what had taken place on their way to Emmaus and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

We are also on a road — our road to Emmaus or some other destination. We talk together about all that has happened, things that can alter a life dramatically. Are we also slow to believe the full message of the prophets? Who are the prophets today who would speak to us if we have ears to hear? What is prophetic in us that wants to be spoken? If it resides at depths in us beyond what we have yet reached, perhaps we could move to those depths and let them speak.

Let our hearts burn within us as you talk to us on the roads we travel through life. We need to find the connections between what is revealed to us in the depths of ourselves and what takes place in all the ways we break bread with others. All the circumstances of our outer lives are the breaking of the bread. We take the bread that is broken each day to the quiet places inside ourselves so that we will understand the meaning of our outer lives. Let us take with us the understandings we find in our deepest selves, take them on the road to Emmaus and on all other roads. Then wholeness and understanding will begin to take shape in us.


Maureen McCormack SL

Maureen, a former president of the Loretto Community, has worked for social justice in a wide variety of areas, including serving on the boards of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation and of Eco-Justice Ministries, an ecumenical group working with churches on environmental issues. She is one of the founders of U.S. Women's History Month celebrations and has participated in three U.N. World conferences on Women. Maureen resides at Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.