April 6: Third Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-28; I Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24: 13-35
Can you imagine seeing someone who is supposed to have died three days ago now risen, walking around and entering your room with doors locked? That is the phenomenon the disciples were facing when Jesus arose after 3 days in the tomb. The body of Jesus had been radically transformed. In today’s Gospel reading two disciples fail to recognize him. As the two disciples walk to Emmaus, Jesus catches up with them and listens to their story of what had happened. The risen Lord accompanies the two disciples completely unaware of Jesus' identity, because "their eyes were prevented them from recognizing him". So Jesus takes the opportunity to open their understanding of the Scripture passages about himself, as had been foretold. As the two disciples reach their destination, they invite the stranger to stay with them for the night. "So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. He shows his wounds and, as we hear today, he reveals himself in the breaking of the bread. The Resurrection of Jesus is not only spiritual, but also corporal - that is, physical. In the mystery of the resurrection is the message. Joan Cruz in her book “The Incorruptibles” writes about 102 case studies of Catholic saints and blessed whose bodies after death have been preserved in whole or in part from corruption. The difference between such saints (like St Clare and St. Francis Xavior) preserved from corruption is that the risen Lord is truly risen and alive. He can be seen walking and talking and eating. His coming to life fulfils his promise that he would rise again. The very fact that the bodies of some saints are preserved from corruption is to give them a foretaste or anticipation of their future state of incorruptibility after resurrection.
In today's first reading, St. Peter quotes from Psalm 16 which refers to our future state."My heart is glad… because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption." Peter argues that Psalm 16 cannot apply to David since his tomb is in Jerusalem. If you opened it, you would only find bones and dust. David's body decayed. But if you go to the tomb of Jesus, you would find something different. The tomb of Jesus is empty. His body is not there. Why? St. Peter gives an astounding explanation: The same Jesus, crucified for our sins is now alive. We are eyewitnesses, he says. Jesus was restored not to ordinary human life, like Lazarus, but to a new, "glorious" existence. Thus we get some hints today about this radical, glorious life. The central message of this Sunday may be summed up in a few points: 1) Like the two disciples, may our hearts too burn within us as the Risen Lord speaks to us today; 2) May we welcome the Risen Lord so that He may reveal his presence in the breaking of bread; in this celebration; in our daily service to the poor, the suffering, the sick, in our sharing of food with the hungry, in our family prayer; 3) Like the two disciples who left immediately for Jerusalem to tell the story of their encounter with the risen Lord, may we too, go and share this Good News to others. With the apostles let us joyfully confess, "The Lord has truly been raised".
©2008 John S. Mbinda