July 21, 2019

Homily on the Fifth Eothinon Gospel - Luke 24:13-35

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The Gospel read today during Matins, refers to the appearance of Christ to the two disciples, who are not numbered among the circle of the Twelve, but instead they are among the circle of the Seventy, as they were on their way to Emmaus, a small city near Jerusalem. One of the disciples mentioned in the Gospel is Cleopas, the other, according to the tradition preserved for us, is Luke the Evangelist himself, who recorded the event.

First of all, what one finds when reading the Gospels that describe the Resurrection of Christ, is that all the descriptions are simple, plain, they do not express emotions or grand doctrines, they even express the disbelief of the disciples. All this shows the truth of the descriptions. There is nothing unnecessary, excessive, emotional. Everything is natural and true.

The two disciples are saddened by the events that preceded them, namely the Passion of Christ and His Crucifixion. Christ approaches them, He does not reveal His divinity, He conceals His glorious face, He converses with them, He accepts their weakness, and gradually He removes their sorrow from them and leads them to the great revelation, that He Himself is the resurrected Christ, as it was foretold in the Scriptures. The two disciples express their doubts saying: "We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel." And of course they said this because they had other notions about the Messiah Christ, that he would expel the occupiers and liberate Israel. These were secular national notions. But Christ did not come into the world to create another, perhaps a better worldly political situation, but to renew the world and resurrect humanity, to give us that which no one else could give.

The important thing is that Christ gradually and progressively raised them to the great revelation. At first He referred to what the Prophets said and He analyzed it, then, when they arrived at the house, at the time He blessed the bread, He opened their eyes and they recognized Him. At that moment, Christ vanished from their sight. When He revealed Himself to them, His presence was no longer needed, for He had just entered them. This gradual, progressive revelation, which happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, shows slightly the course of the Divine Liturgy. First we hear the Apostolic and Gospel readings, then the sermon about these readings, and then we enter the Divine Liturgy where there is the possibility, if there are Orthodox ecclesiastical prerequisites, to taste the Body and Blood of Christ, and we gain a personal communion and knowledge of God.

But this progressive and gradual revelation of Christ is not an external event but an inner experience, for as the Gospel says, while He spoke and opened their hearts to the word of God, they felt internally the energy of the words as a burning and then their spiritual eyes opened and they recognized him. Therefore, all spiritual and ecclesiastical events take place within the heart.

The Saints had such experiences, even the Old Testament Prophets, such as the Prophet Elijah. And he was a Prophet who had seen God, for he was made worthy to see the pre-incarnate Christ, which is precisely why he attended the Transfiguration of Christ.

My beloved, we must live in our hearts the Orthodox ecclesiastical life and especially the blessing of the Divine Eucharist. How this will be done will be will be shown by our inspired spiritual fathers.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.