As you read the following passages of Scripture, try to put yourself in the scene. Sense from the story the excitement of the disciples (perhaps Cleopas and Mark) — It was Sunday, the Crucifixion happened hardly 48 hours prior. The disciples are still vastly unaware not only of the reality of the Resurrection but of its very necessity. The coming back from the depths of death is part of the promised sign of Jonah:

Jesus replied, “A wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now One greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:40-42)

It is easy to think that the disciples were too thick to understand the obvious predictions that Jesus made about Himself and yet, see in the text that their perception of reality was blocked on purpose. Christ is writing a parable with his actions, using the landscape, shaping the souls that are witnessing the whole drama of Redemption. He is in control, something we easily forget in our age. The Church of 33 A.D. is as much under the care of Christ as the Church of 2023 A.D. and we are today as unaware of the spiritual realities being represented by the Church as those two disciples were. So much that we may meet Jesus “on the road” today, chat with Him, be amazed at his apparent lack of information … and yet be completely where He wants us to be.

On the road to Emmaus

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. (Luke 24:13-27 NRSVACE)

Looking at this from a fair distance of twenty centuries we notice a few important things that the disciples could not see because they were too close to the picture.

  • It was the end of an age. Soon the religious authorities that had perpetrated the deicide were going to be all dead, their Temple destroyed, their national pride brutally humiliated by the Roman armies.
  • The incipient Church was going to go on the ascendance because of the events of that first Resurrection Sunday.
  • One thing we easily miss: both the religious authorities of the day and the disciples were expecting the same kind of redemption for Israel: a military, political redemption. They wanted to do to Rome what Rome ended up doing to them. The disciples had still to learn about how Jesus was going to effect the true Redemption of Israel. The Church was called to be a New Israel, the one destined to universal glory: “For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11,Matthew 21:13,Mark 11:17)
  • The disciples were completely unaware that the Cross of Calvary was the gate to the conquest of the world and they were also unaware that they were going to participate in that glorious conquest.
  • The empty tomb remained an enigma for the men in the Church but it became a definite reality for the women, for the humblest, most powerless who understood the enormity of the Resurrection with the aid of holy angels. Truth always enters the Church in unexpected ways.

Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer?

We are presented with the great mystery of the Cross in several ways. In short: suffering comes first and then glory follows. The tomb had a broken body. Life was violently separated from the body of Christ. The prophets wrote about it over an over but no one was permitted to understand how exactly it was going to come to pass.

At the inn

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?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.  (Luke 24:1-35 NRSVACE)

As the bread is consecrated, the eyes of the two disciples are opened. Christ is now suddenly gone and the consecrated bread remains on the plate. The first Consecration after the Resurrection is one of two bookends. At the end of time, the Church may be deprived of the Consecrated Bread but at that moment the other bookend will appear: Christ will arrive in glory because the world simply cannot exist without Him. The Eucharist is what holds the world together.

The broken bread is a sign of His Sacrificial Death and Resurrection, that broken body so necessary for the rays of his glorious Resurrection to pierce through and renew the world. Light returns to the understanding and the eyes of the disciples that precise moment.

The disciples do not know it but they are representing a prophetic scene. They are the Church at the moment when Jesus returns to save her. The understanding of the Cross will happen not only at an intellectual level. It will also happen at the experiential level. The Passion of Christ will be projecting a shadow from Calvary and that shadow is the Passion of the Church at the End Times.

Only a broken Church can be raised to meet her Master.



“The ancient faith is under a furious attack both from outside and inside. It is our privilege to suffer those attacks in the same manner that Our Lord suffered. That is part of our witness. That is the wisdom of the Cross. Soon Our Lord will rebuke those who are trying to conform the Church to the changing ways of the world. Those are building on sand and will come to utter ruin. We must make sure to build on the solid Rock which is Christ. He will not disappoint us.” From Living in the Ruins.


“God has not abandoned us. They have abandoned God. Do not lose your peace over this. More will come. All of this is in God’s providence. How sweet it is to see it, how wonderful to live it. We are about to see the cleansing of the Church from all of this. What a rejoicing!”. Quoted from Vox Cantoris.

In the photo the statue of Jesus of the Church of the Flagellation was defaced and thrown to the ground by a Jewish extremist. “O my people, what harm have I done you, what pain have I given you, answer me!”. [Michael Kelly, Twitter]