The Third Day on the First Day

Luke’s Gospel with its ten meals and eucharistic overtones ends with a three-part description of the Resurrection. The first story recounts two visits to the tomb, one by women and one by Peter. The second story is the Emmaus story, and the last story is the final meal with the community in Jerusalem. All three take place on the same day—“day one of the week” recalling the first day of creation in Genesis. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are in a new creation! But the disciples on the road to Emmaus are despondent and hopeless.

A Stranger comes along, but the eyes of the two disciples were “prevented” from recognizing him as the Risen Lord. They bemoaned in verbal irony that this was already “the third day,” a phrase used in the early Church for the day of resurrection. The two had “little sense” because they couldn’t accept the passion and death. So Jesus led them in reflecting on all the Scripture said about the Messiah.

The two asked Jesus to “stay with us,” a phrase meaning to dwell—the same word used many times in previous stories such as the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. Then the roles are reversed as Jesus becomes the host. Jesus takes, blesses, breaks, and gives bread; and the two recognize Jesus in these four eucharistic actions.

Are we Christians ready to break bread with the stranger, whoever he or she may be? Do we recognize Jesus Christ in the assembly with whom we worship?

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