3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9 (7a)
1 John 2:1-5a
April 15, 2018
For the last two weeks we have heard stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples as told in the Gospel of John. This week we hear a story of the risen Jesus speaking to his disciples from the Gospel of Luke.
What we hear today is not the first time Jesus appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection in Luke’s Gospel. We see this in the very first line of today’s passage when it says, “The two disciples recounted what had taken place of the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”
What they are recounting to the other disciples is what happened in the passage right before this one. It is the story of the road to Emmaus. Jesus had been crucified. The tomb was found empty. Later that day, two of Jesus’ disciples are walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
They are talking about what has happened when Jesus came up to them walking on the road “but they were kept from recognizing him.” As they walked, Jesus explained to them what had been written about him in the scriptures.
Their hearts burned with zeal at what Jesus said but they did not recognize him until he broke the bread as he did at the Last Supper. This is wonderful news! Jesus is risen!
They immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the others that they had seen Jesus. That passage ended with news that Jesus had also appeared to Simon.
I tell all this to help us relate to what goes on in today’s passage. As the disciples were sharing what happened on the road to Emmaus and the appearance to Simon, Jesus once again “stood in their midst.”
One might think they would be excited and joyful. Instead, “they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.” This meant seem odd, at least for Simon and two disciples who had already seen Jesus risen.
What’s the problem or, as Jesus says, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
Yes, the three of them have already seen the Risen Jesus and the others have heard of him. Yet, this is still all brand new. Remember it is still the same day when the tomb was found empty. No one had risen from the dead before.
Jesus wants to give them assurance. He allows them to touch him so that they know he has flesh and bones. He ate fish in front of them to confirm this.
From there, “he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” and how the scriptures foretold all that would happen to Jesus. Jesus helped open their eyes to see the scriptures in a new way. They had expected a Messiah to be a great political king based on the promise the Lord made to King David that an heir of his house would sit upon his throne forever.
The Jewish expectation of a messiah in Jesus’ day focused on this one promise. So, Jesus’ Crucifixion did not fit this at all. Jesus gives them a broader view to look at the Hebrew Scriptures as a whole.
In our passage from Acts today, Peter helps the people to understand how what happened to Jesus was the fulfillment of all the God had foretold through the words of the prophets.
We have not seen Jesus for ourselves. We have statues and paintings of him to help us visualize him but, again, we have not seen him for ourselves.
If we were to hear just one of the stories of Jesus appearing to his disciples after the Resurrection, we would probably tend not to believe, but with several stories, we begin to accept it. And when we look at Salvation History as a whole, we see how Jesus really is the fulfillment of what God foretold.
Do you remember Jesus’ last words to Thomas last week? “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” We have not seen Jesus for ourselves but we do believe. We believe because the Holy Spirit has given us the gift of wisdom and understanding so we can take the knowledge of Jesus and believe.
When Jesus appeared today, the disciples were “troubled.” What do you have going on in your life that causes you trouble?
Do you find it difficult to believe that God is there with you? It might seem odd. We have faith. We believe that God is with us. Why is it so difficult to find peace?
When we pray, we come closer to Jesus. We are more aware of his presence among us. Yet, then we finish our prayer and go out into the world and face the same old struggles or perhaps a new struggle. These struggles can be very evident. They distract us from Jesus.
This is why coming to church once in a while is not enough. Coming to Mass is very important for one of our closest moments to Jesus in this world comes in “The Breaking of Bread” that we know as the Eucharist.
Yet, if we only come once in a while, the struggles of this earthly world draw us away from Jesus. That’s why when we feel distanced from Jesus (when we might doubt) that we actually need to come more.
Then, even when we are not in church, to take some time each day to connect with Jesus. We can’t wait for the bad times. We need to remain connected to Jesus all the time and then we see our struggles through the eyes of Jesus. We see past our doubt to see Jesus.
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