The Emmaus story in Luke 24

Luke chose to present three stories in his Resurrection chapter 24.  The middle one has to do with the two disciples who are leaving Jerusalem because they no longer believe Jesus to have been anyone but a prophet, a good man but now permanently dead.  Two moments of the story are emphasized.  First, these disciples’ hearts burned when they heard the Scriptures (the Old Testament) interpreted so as to make sense of God’s design and of Jesus.  Second, they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread with them in Emmaus.  Scholars argue about this ’breaking of the bread’: some say it refers to the action of anyone who is responsible for leading the dinner prayers; others say it is a conscious attempt to recall the one breaking of the bread, that of the Last Supper. Most scholars prefer the latter understanding.  In any event, it is clear that Luke has structured the resurrection story so that the reader should be able to see his point: first, the reading of the Scriptures and their interpretation, then the eating of the food prepared by God - our Eucharist, no?  Clearly, there was no Eucharist at this meeting of the disciples with Jesus, but there were many, many regular celebrations of the Eucharist between that time and the time (85AD) of Luke.  The evangelist wants his reader to realize, then, that the risen Jesus can still be met at every Eucharist; as a famous Resurrection text says, "It is the Lord!", and he wants our hearts burning when we hear the Scriptures read and interpreted.  John Kilgallen, SJ

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