We are now deeply immersed in the Easter season celebrating the Lord’s victory over sin and death. The themes of our readings are repentance, conversion and the affirmation of our Easter faith to which we must give witness.
Our first reading gives us St. Peter preaching. He tells his hearers that when they killed the Lord, it was in accordance with God’s plan to save the world. Not to worry. Their response must be to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord. This must have come as an intense relief to those who regretted their rejection of Jesus.
In our second reading we are reminded by St John that we must avoid sin if we can. Nonetheless, the reality is that we do sin. Thankfully we have our advocate who pleads our cause before the Father. obedience to the will of God is essential. If we obey we cease to question God’s will. We learn to allow God to take charge of our lives and we cooperate with His way of working through us and those we love. This is difficult as it means great sacrifice and makes demands of us. We must trust God at all times.
Our Gospel gives us St. Luke’s post resurrection account of the Lord appearing to the disciples. There is a wonderful process of affirmation which leads to acclamation:
Affirmation of the Risen Lord: Luke tells us this happened incrementally. We look at the overall Emmaus/upper room event as we are given the second half in our Gospel today. I feel I can Identify with what the disciples feel, maybe you do too.
First, we have the disciples’ despondency. They are resistant to witnesses that Jesus is risen. They walk away from Jerusalem, their place of commitment; they have become a little aimless. We can identify with these disciples when we feel disappointed and it all seems too much. We too can find ourselves a little out of focus and without overt direction or destination. Second, disappointment blinds them to the identity of the Lord when they meet the Lord. We know how our failures, disasters, mistakes, can affect our ability to see how things really are. Things do not seem to hang together, they appear even a little disjointed or chaotic. We cannot see beyond our issues. This is often how it is for us. Now Jesus ministers to the disciples and to us.
First, Jesus asks them to tell their story to Him. How they feel is important to Him. Grace builds on nature. Jesus builds on our story, filling it with light, grace, love, life and mercy. Our story will always matter to God. I remember how my mother would sit me down as soon as I came in from school and ask me about my day. My mum had lots to do with her four children around her, but she had all the time in the world to listen to each of us as we shared our day. Jesus loves us too and the events and moments our life are precious to Him.
Second: Jesus took the disciples though the Holy Scriptures that were about Him. A saint once said that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. No matter how busy we are, we need to take up the Bible or our Missal and read a little of God’s Word each day. It is a good discipline that Lent tried to establish in us. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us to understand just as Jesus explained to His friends on the road to Emmaus.
Third: Jesus sat down and broke bread with the disciples. For us as Catholics, we think of Holy Mass where Jesus, through His priest, blesses the bread and wine that become His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. We see a process of coming to faith. The Lord listens to the disciples’ story on which He builds His story. He explains the Word of God which enlightens and brings about conversion. Then the Lord progresses the disciples to the Eucharist where their eyes (the eyes of faith) are finally opened. Then Jesus vanishes from what their human eyes can see. We conclude that as St. Thomas was told by the Lord last Sunday: faith comes through hearing, not seeing. It will be in the Word of God and the Eucharist and other sacraments that followers of the Lord will primarily meet Him.
Our Gospel today takes up the story in Luke. It includes many of Luke’s favourite themes:
Joy in the Lord: the disciples are filled with joy when the Lord comes to them. This joy dispels all their issues and they become single minded in their happiness. Don’t we all long for such joy? A bulletproof, enduring joy that no present problem or future issue can undermine.
Table Fellowship: The Lord sits at table more times in Luke’s Gospel than any other. When Our Lord sits down He is often making a statement of inclusion of a rejected person or a teaching for someone who needs to listen. We Catholics are so fortunate to have Eucharistic faith. Maybe we take for granted the miracle the Mass is and what Love and Life it’s celebration contains. Let us grow in gratitude to God Who gives Himself so generously to us.
The Mystical sense of Jerusalem: It is only in Luke that we have journey narrative. In chapter 9 verse 51, we have: ‘As the time drew near him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem’. Over the next ten chapters Jesus will encounter many people, performs miracles, healing the sick, acts of mercy and great teaching but always with an eye to the City. After Our Lord spends time with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the return to Jerusalem. We are minded that our journey through life is to the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is not our permanent home, but our place of loving service. We know this life will give way to unending life with the Lord at His Wedding Feast in Heaven. When we feel a little low, maybe we need to close our eyes and spiritually gaze at the magnificence of the Heavenly Jerusalem where our loved ones await us in a joy we cannot comprehend.
Acclamation of the Lord: Witness: Luke makes the point that the disciples on the road, returning to Jerusalem, meet with the other disciples. They tell their stories of how they met Jesus to each other. In doing so, each group strengthens the faith of the other. There are many reasons why we come together at Mass, one must surely be to strengthen each other’s faith. Another must be to strengthen our desire to tell others our Good News. The solidarity that comes from being together is important. We reinforce each other when we gather in the Lord’s Name. We are reminded we do not walk alone. Our problems are shared. We can count on each other for support. Sometimes we feel alone when we give witness. We may be the only believer in the room or conversation. Yet we know we are the Body of Christ. We are spiritually together even when we are physically apart. We also have the company of the saints in Heaven who encourage us and pray for us.
Life is definitely like the journey of the disciples in our Gospel. We have our issues, but the Lord is the solution. We do not always see the Master clearly beside us but we know in our hearts He is by our side. We never walk alone. Let us take heart from these Eastertide readings and allow the Holy Spirit to put a little spring in our step.
Fr. Gerard X