October 30, 2017

Holy Apostle Cleopas of the Seventy

St. Cleopas the Apostle (Feast Day - October 30)


Cleopas does not see you as before O Word,
But now he sees clearly, delighting in your vision.

Cleopas appears in Luke 24:13-27 as one of two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Cleopas is named in verse 18, while his companion remains unnamed though he is traditionally identified with the Apostle Luke.

This occurs three days after the crucifixion, on the day of Jesus' resurrection. The two have heard the tomb of Jesus was found empty earlier that day, but have not yet believed the women's testimony. They are discussing the events of the past few days when a stranger asks them what they are discussing. "Their eyes were kept from recognizing him." He soon rebukes them for their unbelief and reminds them of the prophecies about the Messiah. They ask the stranger to join them for the evening meal. When he breaks the bread "their eyes were opened" and they recognize him as the resurrected Jesus. Jesus immediately vanishes.

Cleopas and his friend hasten back to Jerusalem to carry the news to the other disciples, and learn Jesus has also appeared to one of them. The same event is recorded in Mark 16:12-16:13. Nothing else is reliably known about Saint Cleopas.

There is a tradition of identifying Cleopas of Emmaus as the brother of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. This connection is drawn from the reference to "Mary, the wife of Cleopas" who stood at the foot of the Cross (cf. John 19:25). This Mary is identified with Mary the mother of James the lesser, of Joseph and of Salome (cf. Mark 15:40; Matthew 27:56). Moreover, James the lesser is stated to be the son of Alpheaus, which may be the Aramaic version of Cleopas (cf. Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18). Then he would also be the father of Saint Jude Thaddeaus, who is the brother of James (cf. Jude 1:1). Now, both Jude and James are among the brothers of the Lord, which likely indicates that they were the cousins of Jesus. This would provide some scriptural foundation for the identification of Cleopas as a relative of Saint Joseph. However, for this pious belief, we rely far more on the oral tradition of the Church Fathers, than on explicit passages of Scripture.