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. S. Jerom 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 S. Joseph; others, that he was husband of Mary, sister of the blessed Virgin Mary, and father of S. James the less. Both the Latins and Greeks keep the feast of S. 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. Wi.
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. Wi.
Ver. 21. We hoped, &c. as if they had lost their former hopes, or now knew not what to hope for: but perhaps, as S. Aug. observes, they might use this caution speaking before a stranger. Wi.
--- 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. S. 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 S. Aug. 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. A.
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 Gen. xviii. v. 9. and Gen. xix. v. 3. and v. 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. Wi.
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! A.
Ver. 47. Beginning at Jerusalem. The sense is, that they were first to preach to the Jews, and afterwards to all nations. Wi.
Ver. 49. The promise of my Father; i.e. the Holy Ghost, whom Christ had promised that his Father and he would send. Jo. xiv. 26. and xvii. 7. Wi.
BethaniaBethania, is about one mile and a half from Jerusalem: Bethphage was between the two. V.
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. Theophy.
--- 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. Chrys.