The Emmaus story is the quintessential resurrection story. It is the discovery of Christ, and coming to faith story which originates in a calm and subtle manner and gradually illumines even the blindness of areas. It is an awareness which begins changing the heart even before the mind can process what is happening. It’s the story which wakes a person up to say, “Wow Jesus has been walking with me this whole time and I didn’t even realize it!” Curiously, the human mind is the last to be able to see it.
I’ve noticed at the local watering hole people are less inhibited to talk about Jesus, and in that informal setting they start asking questions. The questions authentically stem from what doesn’t make sense for them. Why the Cross? Could there not have been another way? If Jesus was divine, could he not have chosen or even paved his own way that would have been easier or more conventional? Couldn’t he have at least zapped the minds of the Pharisees and Sadducees to get them to understand who he was as Messiah? Ultimately I hear people asking for help trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense in their world. And if it is that way for today’s questioning people, how much more must it have been confusing and disturbing to the immediate disciples.
Yesterday the church invited us to spend time with the beginning of the Emmaus story; today the story concludes. And the line which intrigues me in today’s Gospel is, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and psalms had to be fulfilled.” It reads like a post resurrection interview as Jesus explains himself to the disciples. He was to fulfill everything that was written about him in the law, the prophets and the psalms. He saw his life as a fulfillment of Scripture. Isn’t this an incredible insight into the mind of the historical Jesus?
I can’t imagine Jesus neither would have had the notion that one day the image of himself being crucified would have such a profound impact on people, nor that there would be thousands of buildings erected for prayer and worship with a crucifix being the centerpiece. But he did have a rich Jewish tradition whereby people read, pondered and dialogued about the sacred scriptures. Thus for him to move from dialogue to fulfillment must have rocked some people’s worldview. Recall the beginning of his public ministry in Luke’s Gospel he reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and boldly states, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”. Luke portrays Jesus as knowing he is fulfilling what was written about him by numerous sources many years before. He who is the Word made flesh was to build on the integrity of the written Word of God.
Lastly, Luke adds, after doing so, he opened their minds to the understanding of the scriptures. I give thanks today for the people who have opened my mind to the understanding of the scriptures.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.