Voices ever ancient, ever new. Easter, Week 3: Sunday

“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.” (Luke 24:15-16)

Saint Augustine of Hippo offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

““We,” they said, “had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” O my dear disciples, you had hoped! So now you no longer hope? Look, Christ is alive! Is hope dead in you? Certainly, certainly, Christ is alive! Christ, being alive, found the hearts of his disciples dead, as he appeared and did not appear to their eyes. He was at one and the same time seen and concealed. I mean, if he wasn’t seen, how could they have heard him questioning them and answered his questions? He was walking with them along the road like a companion and was himself the leader. Of course he was seen, but he wasn’t recognized. For their eyes were restrained, as we heard, so that they wouldn’t recognize him. They weren’t restrained so that they wouldn’t see him, but they were held so that they wouldn’t recognize him.

 Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of bread. We’re all right, nothing to worry about — we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sake that he didn’t want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren’t going to see him in the flesh, and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you’re a believer, any of you, if you’re not called a Christian for nothing, if you don’t come to church pointlessly, if you listen to the Word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord’s absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. Those two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn’t believe he had risen. Nor did they have any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive. They were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored.” (Sermon 235)

May your people exult for ever, O God,
in renewed youthfulness of spirit,
so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,
we may look forward in confident hope
to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!