Today’s Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
As we continue to celebrate the glorious triumph of Jesus’ Resurrection, we read another account of that first Easter morning in today’s Gospel. This time we meet up with two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
This specific Gospel reading has been near and dear to my heart for many years, and as I continue to read and study it, I appreciate ever more how this story is a wonderful illustration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
As Jesus joins the two disciples on the road, He asks, “What are you discussing as you go your way?” By His question, He encourages them to share where they are at in that exact moment. They essentially “confess” to Jesus their distress and uncertainty about the death of Jesus and how they had hoped that He was the Messiah. Because they are so overcome by despair, they fail to recognize Him standing right in front of them on the road to Emmaus. Likewise, when we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we also “confess” or share with Jesus where we are in that exact moment in time. Sometimes, our hearts are so overwhelmed by our sin or lack of faith that we fail to recognize the ways Jesus has been with us all along.
Jesus goes on to talk with the disciples, revealing how necessary it was “that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” Then, He explains how the Scriptures refer to Him. This, in turn, can be like the words the priest, in the person of Christ, speaks to us to give hope and encouragement, after we have confessed our sins.
When Jesus and the disciples reach the village of Emmaus, they invite Him to stay with them. There, Jesus takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, and gives it to them. Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, because just days before, Jesus performed the exact same actions, when He gave us the Eucharist at the very first Mass at the Last Supper. Now, after His death and resurrection, he prays the second Mass at Emmaus, repeating what He did at the Last Supper, to help the disciples recognize Him.
The two disciples recall how their hearts were burning, as He walked with them. Through the breaking of the bread, Jesus helps them to really identify their burning hearts as the true desire for His love, His mercy, His grace—all of Him.
The disciples’ experience of “confessing” to Jesus what was so distressing, listening and taking in all that He had to say, and then actively participating in the Mass, gives them the joy, strength, and courage to run back to Jerusalem to witness the Resurrection of the Lord! And this is what the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion can do for us, too! They can allow our hearts to burn with a fire of love for Jesus, who loves us so much that He comes to us in our moments of sin and distress and gives us the grace of His mercy and love!
Do our hearts burn for love of Jesus, as we receive the grace from the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do we recognize Jesus—body, blood, soul and divinity—in the breaking of the bread during Holy Mass? How can our reception of these two sacraments increase our joy and courage to witness the Resurrection to others?
Dear Lord, thank You for this beautiful season of Easter! Thank You for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Help us to receive them with increased reverence and openness to the grace You desire to pour upon us. May we never be afraid to witness the amazing joy of Your Resurrection to others. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm