There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Luke 24:13-35

 This passage was the Gospel reading on Mother's Day this year, so it got kinda pushed aside, but I think it's a really important passage both for the Eucharist and for the idea of Sola Scriptura.
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
Jesus knows. But He doesn't want them to know He knows. The fact that Jesus doesn't immediately say "Hey, it's me!" makes the circumstances of the later self-revelation significant. In fact, all through the Gospels, Jesus tells people to keep His miracles secret, and does not allow the demons removed from people to spread the knowledge that Jesus is God. This seems like the opposite of a good marketing strategy. How will anyone know you've just risen from the dead if you wait forever to tell them?
They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."  I think this is the most succinct description of Jesus. It's only missing the fact that Jesus was more than just another prophet. Maybe the "we were hoping" means that they had all given up on Jesus being the Messiah. Maybe that's why they couldn't recognize him when he walked with them; they were not mentally able to. Are we always able to see Jesus when He walks with us?
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. What the Bible refers to as "the scriptures" is what we as Christians hold as the Old Testament. The old writings that testify to Jesus. The Gospels and New Testament letters are the new writings that testify to Jesus. I don't think there's any other religion that tries so hard to provide evidence/testimony/witness to its truth. There's no other religion where God lowered Himself to become human and know what it's like. There's no other religion where God is loving enough to sacrifice Himself. If you have to make Pascal's wager, wouldn't you want to be in a religion with a God who is as loving and merciful as our God is? So many people ask for proof, for reason. But they don't realize that God revealed Himself over and over and even came to live with us. And that's not enough. Jesus takes the time to interpret everything too! We don't even have to interpret the scriptures ourselves! In fact, we probably shouldn't, so that we don't come up with something contradictory to what Jesus said. Just one problem: this doesn't say what God's interpretation is.
As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. I think it is significant that Jesus spent all day finding Jesus in the scriptures, but their eyes were not opened. Cleopas wasn't with Jesus at the Last Supper, and his unnamed companion was probably not an Apostle either as he's not named. Jesus could have opened their eyes any time during the explanation of the scriptures. Is it a coincidence that Jesus wanted them to recognize Him in the bread? Do we always recognize Jesus in the Eucharist as if "our eyes were opened"? How can we lessen the importance of the Eucharist to "only a symbol" when it is the primary way to recognize Jesus?
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?" They realize that they found Jesus in the scriptures after they found Jesus in the meal. That is the order Jesus wants us to find Him. If Jesus intended us to have Sola Scriptura, wouldn't He have their eyes opened during the opening of the scriptures? The scriptures are important (it make their hearts burn within them) but it is has secondary importance to the breaking of the bread, in this passage.
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. As as addition to whether or not we see Jesus when He walks with us, do we see Jesus when He walks with others? Are we willing to put our own interpretation of the Bible aside if we are told Jesus gave us God's interpretation? Do we recognize Jesus in the "breaking of the bread" today?

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