3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2:14, 22-23
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Peter 1:17-21
Once again, we hear a story of the disciples right after the tomb was found empty. This time it is two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. We are not told why they are going there. That is not the point. The point is the encounter they have with Jesus.
Now, when I say ‘encounter’ I do not simply mean their conversation with Jesus. That is very important but the conversation is much more than just a conversation. They had been “hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.”
They were looking for a Messiah to set them free from the Romans but instead Jesus was crucified by the Romans.
They came to believe that Jesus was the one they had been waiting for because of his miracles and his teachings. Now they are not sure.
With all this in mind, the two disciples were walking along the road. As they walked, they were conversing about Jesus and all that had happened. Once Jesus was crucified, it would have been easy to think he was just another prophet at best, and at worst, a false prophet. They could have given up on Jesus but they hadn’t.
Instead, as they walked, they conversed “about all the things that had occurred.” It didn’t make sense to them so they talked about it. Here is lesson #1 for us. When we don’t understand something about our faith, instead of giving up or thinking it is too hard to understand, we need to talk about it with others who share our faith. It might be at home or at dinner. It might mean starting or joining a small Christian community of parishioners just like us.
Let’s go back to the disciples as they walked. Jesus appeared to them without them being able to recognize him. He asked them what they were discussing. They are amazed that he couldn’t guess. To them what has happened to Jesus is so important, they couldn’t imagine anyone talking about anything else.
Jesus had filled their hearts with hope. Even the fact that Jesus had been crucified did not end their hope. Even in what seemed devastating to them, they still spoke of his mighty deeds and words. I think we see them recall Jesus’ words that he would be raised on the third day when they identified the current day as the “third day.” Otherwise, it won’t be significant.
They were devastated but they still had hope. Here is lesson #2 for us. When we suffer, when things seem difficult or impossible, it is not the time to give up. There is always hope in Jesus.
They couldn’t understand what had happened. It is in this context that Jesus told them it was “necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.”
They were focused on the promise of a messiah, an heir to David that would sit upon his throne over Israel. From these, they expected a messiah who would be King of Israel on Earth.
Their expectation was based on what was in the scriptures but it was shaped by their human desires. Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” He showed them how the prophets foretold what happened in Jesus’ passion. That means it all happened as God foretold.
So, another lesson for us might be is to always be mindful that what we expect, that what we want isn’t always what’s best for us. They didn’t want Jesus to be crucified but it was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins so that Heaven is possible for us.
The two disciples were amazed by what Jesus said. They do not want their ‘encounter’ with Jesus to end. They invited him to stay with them.
As they eat, “he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” What did they recognize? In his breaking bread with them, they recalled the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us the Eucharist.
In a few minutes, we were will break bread. It is the Real Presence but do we recognize Jesus in what we receive?
At Jesus’ disappearance, they realized their hearts were burning in the presence of Jesus. Do our hearts burn with the faith that Jesus gives us? I would hope that all of us have hearts on fire in faith but I know that isn’t the reality. That doesn’t mean we don’t have faith. We are here, aren’t we?
We might say we come to church for various reasons. Honestly, I know some of you are here because mom and/or dad make you come. Maybe you come to make your spouse happy. Maybe you come because that is what we are supposed to do. It is. Our church still calls us to come every Sunday to celebrate Mass.
While you might feel like you are here for one of the reasons I just mentioned, I say that you are here because of the seed of faith within you. If you are here because mom and/or dad say so, then you are honoring your mother and father. If you are here to make your spouse happy, then you are here because of love and love starts with God. If you are here out of obligation, then that obligation must mean something to you. You might be here to make a human being happy but if you are listening to what I am saying, then God means something to you.
So, every one of us has some faith. For some, it might not seem like much faith. Others might feel on fire with faith. Either way, what we need to do to nourish our faith is to talk about it. Maybe it is a conversation with the people you live with. Maybe it is friends or a prayer group that I referred to earlier as a Small Christian Community.
Whatever it is, we need to do what the two disciples did when they realized it was Jesus who had spoken with them. They went and told others.