You have heard the account of the two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus and yet did not recognize him [Luke 24:28-35]. When he met them, they had lost all hope of the redemption that is in Christ, they were convinced that the Master was dead like any other man, they did not realize that Jesus inasmuch as he is Son of God was still alive. According to them he had left this life without being able to return, like one of the many prophets.
Then the Lord revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures. Beginning with Moses and quoting one prophet after another he showed that everything that he had suffered had been foretold.
After that, he appeared to the eleven disciples and they thought they were seeing a ghost. So Jesus let them touch him, the one who had let himself be crucified. He was crucified by his enemies and touched by his friends. He healed them all, the former of their wickedness, the latter of their unbelief.
Yet the Lord did not consider it was sufficient to allow them to touch him. He wanted to appeal to the Scriptures to confirm their hearts in the faith. He saw us in anticipation, who had not yet been born, who do not have a chance to touch Christ but do have the opportunity to read about him.
The Apostles believed because they had touched him. But what can folk like us do? By now Christ is ascended into heaven and will only return at the end to judge the living and the dead. On what base shall we build our faith, unless it be those Scriptures with which the Lord wanted to confirm the faith of those who touched him?
He revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures and showed how it was necessary that the Christ should fulfil all that had been written about him in the books of the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms. The Lord went through the whole Old Testament. He seemed to span it all in his embrace.
The Scriptures are in fact, in any passage you care to choose, singing of Christ, provided we have ears that are capable of picking out the tune. The Lord opened the minds of the Apostles so that they understood the Scriptures. That he will open our minds too is our prayer.
(Translation by Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, first published in English in 1992 by New City, 57 Twyford Ave, London, W3 9PZ, UK. First American publication in 1993 by Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, USA.)
- See Bearers of God’s Word – Wisdom from the Early Fathers series:
Top image of Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus encounter the Risen Christ, © painting by John Dunne
Aurelius Augustine was born in 345 in the town of Tagaste, in Roman North Africa, in what is today Algeria. His mother was Monica, a very devout Christian who had a significant influence on her son’s life. His father, named Patricius, was a pagan of significant status in society. Patricius became a Christian shortly before his death.
Augustine was educated at Carthage where he enjoyed academic success. He also enjoyed the party life, and at the age of 17 fell in love with a woman whom he never named. They lived together unmarried for 13 years and had a son whom Augustine named Adeodatus, meaning “gift from God.” His son died in his youth.
At the age of 19, after reading Cicero’s Hortensiusat, Augustine fell in love with philosophy. He later wrote, “It gave me different values and priorities. Suddenly every vain hope became empty to me, and I longed for the immortality of wisdom with an incredible ardour in my heart.” While he pursued Platonic philosophy and the theology of the Manichaens, a Christian heretical sect, he became restless for truth and virtue. Shortly before his 30th birthday, Augustine encountered Ambrose, the saintly bishop of Milan. Augustine was moved by Ambrose’s example and his inspired teaching and preaching of the gospel. At the age of 32 Augustine found peace with God and was baptized by Ambrose during the Easter liturgy in 387. Augustine returned to North Africa and formed a monastic community with a group of friends. He was ordained a priest in 391 and became a noted preacher. In 396 he reluctantly became a bishop and remained the bishop of Hippo until his death in 430. He left his monastic community, but continued to lead a monastic life with the parish priests of Hippo in his episcopal residence. Augustine died on August 28, 430, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals.
Augustine was a prolific writer and original thinker. His numerous writings, including theological treatises, sermons, scripture commentaries, and philosophical dialogues, number into the hundreds. His autobiography, the Confessions, was considerded the first Western autobiography. It was highly read among his contemporaries and has continued as a classic throughout the ages.
Augustine is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. He is esteemed as a great Latin church father and a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. Many Protestants consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation teaching. Among Orthodox he is called St. Augustine the Blessed.