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, because 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?’ (Luke 24.28-32a)
It was a seven mile walk, from Jerusalem to Emmaus and they had been talking all the time. The stranger was still with them and he was fascinating. The time had flown past and now the three of them were alone on the road, people had gone off to different villages, some to inns to spend the night but Emmaus was not far and as the sun began to sink behind the hills they arrived at the edge of the village.
It was a famous place. This was where the Ark of the Covenant had rested at the house of Abinadab, the place where the prophet Jeremiah had been born. The village had been there for a long time – people knew it as ‘Grape Village’ because of the wonderful vines and the good wine of that was produced there. It was a lovely place, it was home.
They arrived at their house but the stranger continued walking. ‘Stay with us’ said Mary and Cleopas ‘it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over. We have bread and the wine is very good’.
So the stranger came in and the table was quickly set and they took their seats. Where the Ark of God, the very presence of God had rested, the stranger took his seat. And then the strangest thing happened. The stranger became the host – not in a rude way, not in an inappropriate way, it seemed so natural, so right. He took the bread and, instead of Clepoas doing this, he said the blessing, broke and shared the bread – and they knew who he was.
He was gone.
As quickly as they recognised him, he was gone.
I said that this gospel is about the Eucharist. Whenever we celebrate the sacrament we begin by reading the Word, by reading the scriptures. They are broken open for us. Then we move to the table and bread is taken and broken for us. We share the Word, broken open for us; we share the bread, broken for us and in his Word and in his bread we recognise Jesus in the midst.
Cleopas and Mary described their hearts ‘burning within them’. The spirit of Jesus was upon them, within them, like the early flames of Pentecost, setting them on fire, with presence, with love. The spirit of God had entered their hearts; the spirit of Jesus was filling their lives. Their eyes, their minds, their hearts, their lives had been opened to the Living Lord, the Living God.
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father.