During the Triduum, that is to say the three days before Easter, the Eucharist is not celebrated as usual. Instead, on Maundy Thursday, we celebrate an evening liturgy, a particular Mass which commemorates the Institution of the Eucharist. Then, Friday and Saturday, there isn’t a Mass until the Easter Vigil (the liturgy of Good Friday is not a Mass). Other than these days, the Eucharist can be celebrated as usual on any day of the year. This is necessary for several reasons. One of these is to show us that the Eucharist is the fruit of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. That first Maundy Thursday, Jesus instituted the Eucharist only in view of the events of the days to follow. Then, the Easter Vigil, the Easter Sunday Mass, and all other Holy Masses are the fruit of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
We can see the same thing in today’s Gospel passage. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:30-31). It is quite probable that this meal was not a real Eucharist. Since Jesus was already physically present, there was no need to celebrate the Eucharist, with the only exception of Maundy Thursday, when he instituted it for us. However, this meal is certainly a symbol of the Eucharist. And just as the risen Jesus was present with them, and he became known to them at this meal, in the same way, the risen Christ is present with us and we recognize him in the celebration of the Eucharist. For this reason, we have said that the Eucharist is the fruit of Easter. If Jesus had not risen, he could not be present with us in the Eucharist. When we go to Holy Mass, then, we need to keep this in mind: Jesus is truly present with us in the Eucharist, just as he was present with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
There is still another point of reflection in today’s Gospel. Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith. Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26). It’s not difficult to see why Jesus rebukes them: they had several reasons to believe. First of all, Jesus had predicted his death and resurrection. Then, that same morning, Mary Magdalene and the other women had spoken with them about the angel and the empty tomb. The disciples had investigated their story and found the tomb just as the women had said, but they still did not believe.
If we can criticize the disciples for their slowness to believe, though, all the more must we criticize ourselves. Already believing in his resurrection and already believing in the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, we remain slow to believe his words. For example, Jesus said that we will receive all that we ask of from the Father in his name, but how many times are we doubtful that our prayers are granted?! Still, Jesus always keeps his promises. If, at times it seems to us that our prayers are not granted, perhaps there are various explanations for that; but, above all, the fundamental reason is that God does not respond in the way in which we were anticipating, and rather in a better way. Similarly, the disciples said: We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel. (Luke 24:21).
They thought, though, that their hope was in vain due to his death on the cross, because this didn’t seem to be a good way to redeem Israel. In reality, though, Jesus liberated not only Israel, but the entire world from sin and from eternal death, which is a much greater redemption than the Earthly redemption which the disciples had desired. God explains in the words of the prophet Isaiah, As high as the heavens are above the Earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. (Isiah 55:9). And in this way, often we do not see God’s response to our prayers precisely because there is a response, but it’s much greater than that for which we had hoped. I look at the ground and I see nothing, because his response is above me.
Therefore, we must try to not be so foolish and slow of heart to believe. We must put our faith not only in the resurrection of Jesus and in his presence in the Eucharist, but also we must try to be quick to accept all of the implications of our faith. Let us pray for this grace.