Q: Do you know the history of the Emmaus story in the lectionary? Would it have been read during the dies in albis in the early church as it is now?
A: We don’t have enough information about the use of the Emmaus story early on. It did not play a role in the preconciliar lectionary, from what I can see. And the early mystagogical catecheses (which predate the earliest “lectionary”) do not imply that the Emmaus story was proclaimed that week. But who knows?
The story appears twice in today’s Easter lectionary – once as an option for the gospel at an evening mass on Easter Sunday, and then again on Wednesday of the Octave. You can see the post-Vatican II lectionary committee at work here. The first instance happens because the Emmaus story took place on the evening of the day of the resurrection. And the second instance is put into place in an attempt to string together a series of gospel passages about the resurrection in somewhat chronological order from Monday through Saturday of the Octave. But that’s sheer Vatican II thinking.