The Road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus was filled with trickery, bravery, blood, and victory.  No, I am not talking about that Road to Emmaus.  I am talking about the encounter of Judas Maccabeus and the Gentile army from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Maccabees 3-4).  It occurred about 175 years prior to the risen Christ meeting the two disciples on the same road (cf. Luke 24:13-25). 

Briefly, Maccabeus was the leader of the Jewish armies that were retaking their land from the Gentile occupiers.  A commander of the Gentile army, a fellow named Gorgias, came up with a devious plan to defeat Maccabeus.  Maccabeus anticipated the move, however, and abandoned his camp.  Holding his army ready, the intrepid Jewish leader spoke to his men as they waited in counter-ambush: "It is easy for many to be overcome by few; for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven."  When daybreak came, the Jews fought at Emmaus and defeated the Gentile army.    

The Road to Emmaus is traditionally a reference to the Eucharist.  That is, the Road in the year 33 AD.  "He was known to them the breaking of the bread" (Luke 24:35).  But I think the Road in the year 175 BC can be as well.  The Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  That is the simple, direct truth.  We ought to embrace it head-on and not circumvent it, acting like Gorgias when he tried to surprise Maccabeus.  Using metaphors or rationalizing it with terms like transubstantiation ultimately will not cause us to embrace this august mystery.  It is God's grace—the "strength that comes from Heaven." Then we will be set on fire, just like the Jewish soldiers and the disciples on the Road to Emmaus.

 

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