Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 5. It is worthy of remark, that none of the disciples or friends of Christ, were so much astonished and struck at the many apparitions of angels, &c. as to be cast down to the ground, as the guards and his enemies were, but only through respect and reverential fear looked down upon the ground. Nor even did any of them fall down prostrate to adore our Saviour, when he appeared to them; because Christ was not now to be sought in the earth, among the dead, but was risen, and was to be looked for from heaven. Hence is derived the Catholic custom of praying in Pascal time, and on all Sundays, &c. not on the knee, but with the body respectfully bent, and bowing down their countenance towards the ground. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 13. St. Jerome thinks the Cleophas, one of the two disciples, was a citizen of Emmaus, and that he invited Jesus to take meat in his house. His house was afterwards changed into a church, which the same Father says existed in his time. Some think Cleophas was brother to St. Joseph; others, that he was husband of Mary, sister of the blessed Virgin Mary, and father of St. James the less. Both the Latins and Greeks keep the feast of St. Cleophas, and give him the name of an apostle. Usuard says he was martyred by the Jews. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. But their eyes were held: either by our Saviour’s changing his features, or in what manner he pleased. (Witham)
Ver. 18. Art thou alone a stranger in Jerusalem? or, art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem? which was to signify, that every one must needs have heard of what had passed in regard to Jesus. (Witham)
Ver. 21. We hoped, &c. as if they had lost their former hopes, or now knew not what to hope for: but perhaps, as St. Augustine observes, they might use this caution speaking before a stranger. (Witham) — These two disciples were in the same error as the other Jews; who expected that the Messias would deliver them from subjection to strangers, and re-establish them in their ancient liberty. The cross and passion had been a subject of scandal and fall to them. They say, we did hope; as if their hopes were now at an end. What increased their diffidence was, that Christ had promised to rise again the third day, and some of the women had said that he really had risen. But they expected as public and glorious a manifestation of his resurrection, as his death had been ignominious and known to the whole world. Behold, now this is already the third day since these things are passed: if he had wished to manifest his power, he should have done it already. Thus the disciples reason, as if the third day were already past, and as if it were certain that he was not risen again. So difficult a thing is it to believe what we very ardently wish! (Calmet)
Proprium hoc miseros sequitur vitum
Nunquam rebus credere lætis.
Ver. 30. The ancient Fathers think our Saviour consecrated, on this occasion, and administered the Eucharist to the two disciples. In the Acts of the Apostles, this same term, breaking of bread, is explained without difficulty of the Eucharist. St. Luke seems fond of this manner of expression, to signify that sacrament. (Calmet)
Ver. 37. The apostles thought they saw a Spirit, either good or bad, that had taken the form of Jesus, and was come to deceive them. For that they did not doubt spirits appeared, we have abundant proofs throughout the whole New Testament: and our Saviour, instead of combating this opinion, seems rather to have confirmed it on more than one occasion. Indeed St. Augustine thinks it cannot, without temerity, be denied, that there are occasional apparitions of angels, of demons, and the souls of the dead. (Calmet) — This, however, will not justify the credulity of many ignorant and weak people, who think that nobody can die, but their spirit is sure to appear; much less will it justify the superstitious observations of unusual occurrences, which are so commonly reported to happen, as significant of a departed soul. These occurrences are rare; nor should we suppose that the Almighty would be willing to suspend or change the established laws of nature without a sufficient cause, viz. some known good either to the departed soul, or surviving friends. (Haydock)
Ver. 39. A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. This was one argument of a true and real body. We may take notice, that Christ brought such proofs, as he knew were sufficient to convince them of his resurrection, though they were not of themselves demonstrations. For when they imagined they saw or touched a body, and that he eat with them, these things might apparently be done by a spirit. See Genesis xviii. ver. 9. and Genesis xix. ver. 3. and ver. 16. where we read that angels, in the shape of men, eat, and took Lot and his wife, and his daughters, by the hand, and led them away from Sodom. Our senses, therefore, may sometimes be deceived, as may be shewn by divers other instances. But the arguments which Christ made use of at this time, to induce the apostles to believe his resurrection, are to be taken with all the circumstances: as 1st, with the corroborating testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, in which his resurrection was foretold; 2ndly, they called to their minds what he himself had told them so often, that he would rise again the third day; 3rdly, concurred also the testimonies already given by the angels, that he was risen; 4thly, the miracles at his death and resurrection; 5thly, Christ himself at the same time opened their understanding, to know and believe this truth, that he was truly risen. (Witham)
Ver. 43. Christ eat, not because he stood in need of food to sustain himself after his resurrection, as we sustain our bodies and lives by corporal refreshment; but he did it, to shew his disciples that his body was really risen from the dead. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 45. If, after all the extraordinary opportunities of instruction, which the apostles had had from the mouth of our divine Saviour, it was still necessary that he should instil into them a new light, by opening their minds to understand the Scriptures; what are we to think of the presumptuous attempts of the numerous tribe of modern self-inspired interpreters, who are always ready to descant on the word of the Lord; though so perfectly ignorant that their authority, so far from being admitted, would be laughed to scorn, were they to attempt to explain the slightest difficulty, on the most indifferent subject of profane literature? To such a degree has the spirit of seduction spread itself at the present day! (Haydock)
Ver. 47. Beginning at Jerusalem. The sense is, that they were first to preach to the Jews, and afterwards to all nations. (Witham)
Ver. 49. The promise of my Father; i.e. the Holy Ghost, whom Christ had promised that his Father and he would send. (John xiv. 26. and xvii.[xvi.?] 7.) (Witham)
Ver. 51. Like a second Elias he was taken into heaven, but in a much more glorious manner. Elias was taken up in a mortal and corruptible body: but our divine Saviour, in a glorious, impassible, and immortal state; where now he is our head, having taken upon himself the nature of man, and is crowned with more than angel’s glory. (Theophylactus) — What a glory this for us! Our head is clothed with everlasting glory; so shall we, his members, receive a share in his eternal kingdom. (St. Chrysostom)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ’s resurrection; and manifestation of himself to his disciples.
1 But *on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared.
2 And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre.
3 And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, while they were astonished in mind at this, behold two men stood by them in shining apparel.
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said to them: Why seek you the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke to you, when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying: *the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words.
9 And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, that told these things to the apostles.
11 And these words seemed to them as an idle tale: and they did not believe them.
12 But Peter rising up, ran to the sepulchre; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid by themselves, and went away wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
13 *And behold, two of them went that same day to a town which was sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, named Emmaus.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that while they talked and reasoned with one another, Jesus himself also drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were held, that they should not know him.
17 And he said to them: What are these discourses that you hold one with another, as you walk, and are sad?
18 And the one, whose name was Cleophas, answering, said to him: Art thou alone a stranger in Jerusalem, that hast not known the things that have been done there in these days?
19 He said to them: What things? And they said to him: Concerning Jesus, of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in work and word, before God, and all the people:
20 And how our chief priests and rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we hoped that it was he who should have redeemed Israel: and now, besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company, affrighted us, who, before it was light, were at the sepulchre,
23 And not finding his body, came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of Angels, who say that he is alive.
24 And some of our people went to the sepulchre, and found it so as the women had said; but him they found not.
25 Then he said to them: O foolish, and slow in heart, to believe in all the things which the prophets have spoken!
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning from Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things that were concerning him.
28 And they drew nigh to the town whither they were going: and he made as though he would go farther.
29 But they constrained him, saying: Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent. And he went in with them.
30 And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him: and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he was speaking in the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?
33 And rising up the same hour they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were with them,
34 Saying: The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way: and how they knew him in the breaking of bread.
36 *Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and said to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.
37 But they being troubled and affrighted, supposed that they saw a spirit.
38 And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 See my hands and feet, that it is I myself: feel, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.
40 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 But while they yet believed not, and wondered for joy, he said: Have you here any thing to eat?
42 And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb.
43 And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them.
44 And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me.
45 Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.
46 And he said to them: *Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day:
47 And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 *And you are witnesses of these things.
49 *And I send the promise of my Father upon you: but stay you in the city, till you be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.
51 *And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, that he departed from them, and was carried up to heaven.
52 And they adoring, went back to Jerusalem with great joy.
53 And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
1: Matthew xxviii. 1.; Mark xiv. 2.; John xx. 1.
7: Matthew xvi. 21. and xvii. 21.; Mark viii. 31. and ix. 30.; Luke ix. 22.
13: Mark xvi. 12.
36: Mark xvi. 14.; John xx. 19.
46: Psalm xviii. 6.
48: Acts i. 8.
49: John xiv. 26.
51: Mark xvi. 19.; Acts i. 9.