Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say: This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: 'You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.' (R./)
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm. (R./)
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay. (R./)
You will show me the path of life,
and the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever. (R./)
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?"
He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early that morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."
Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, becase it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The Emmaus story is like a gospel within the gospel. It is so rich a lesson that it serves as a summary of our own bonding with Jesus Christ. For these disciples on the road to Emmaus, the future looked grim indeed. For the previous few years, life had been exciting and they were captivated by the Gospel message of Jesus. But it emerges that they hadn’t grasped some vital parts of what he had said. We can empathize with them, because mostly we too tend to pick and choose the parts of his message that please us, and fail to take seriously other words of the Lord.
After his death on the cross, they felt all was lost. But Jesus used the Jewish scriptures to enlighten them. The prophecies declare the divine promises and reveal the saving plan of God. The Scriptures have power like an electric current, and are inspired by the Spirit of God. When he opened the meaning of God’s Word to them, they began to understand his cross in a totally new light. They saw it not as a total disaster but as the start of a new age of grace.
Once arrived in Emmaus, they recognised him also in the breaking of bread. The prayerful sharing of a meal among friends was a living symbol of friendship and trust. What was special about the way Jesus broke the bread is an intriguing question. Perhaps it was the spirit of self-giving that he invested in the act that showed them who he really was. There was a level of focus, of sharing and of sacredness unique to Jesus, something they had experienced previously, before his passion. His presence touched their deepest hungers, and the bread he broke was not just physical. It was food that they opened their hearts as well as their mouths to receive.
The Emmaus story speaks to people of all ages. We can see ourselves in these two weary travelers on their journey, the faith and hope they have lost, the future they have hoped for fallen apart. And yet they met an unknown friend walking the road with them, who gave them a fresh insight, and connected the new world with the world they knew. And, of course, he is present in a particular way in the Eucharist, in the breaking of bread, full of the many meanings that breaking bread had for Jesus himself, during his life and after the resurrection.