Third Sunday of Easter Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-28; I Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24: 13-35
Happy Mothers Day to all moms! Journey of faith, our hearts burning, surprise along the way and failure to recognize are some of the phrases that sum up the message of this Sunday. During these weeks after Easter, the Church puts us in touch with the first men and women who experienced the risen Jesus in order to deepen our appreciation and understanding of the mystery of the resurrection. The disciples were at a loss, not being able to explain or to understand what had happened. The readings invite us to reflect on what happened next as the disciples begin to see the mystery of the resurrection unfold before them in their journey of faith. Today we enter into that journey already in progress. Together with others in the community of faith, we journey on a path that has already been charted by others in a rich tradition that continually unfolds before us. As we journey, we have certain expectations and hopes that tend to miss the point about Jesus. As the early believers explain in today’s first two readings, Jesus was sent according to the set plan and purpose of God; through his dying and his resurrection God has worked miracles, signs and wonders in our midst (Acts). All our faith and hope as believers are centered on this mystery (1 Peter). In today’s Gospel two disciples fail to recognize the risen Lord. As the two walk to Emmaus, Jesus catches up with them and listens to their story of what had happened. That walk to Emmaus is a metaphor for our own life journey of faith, when the Lord catches up with us too. 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.
While at first the two disciples do not recognize Jesus, they are open to understand the scriptures as Jesus interprets them. Our journey of faith is a journey of learning and entering deeper into the mystery of Christ. This is so important particularly for the newly baptized. We need an interpretation of the scriptures in order to deepen our faith. As Jesus questions the two disciples on the way, they are not afraid to share their faith experience about “the things that have taken place… in these days.” They actually share that faith with a “stranger” about “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” and how the chief priests handed him over to be sentenced to death. In their sharing, we notice how their hopes had been dashed, only to be fired up by surprise. As the two disciples reach their destination (probably their home), 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.” In today’s gospel, Luke reminds believers that the ultimate encounter with the permanent presence of the risen Jesus comes in two ways: 1) in the breaking open of the Word; and 2) in the Breaking of the Bread - the Eucharist. Like the two disciples making their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, we of today live after the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. Like Cleopas and his companion, we search for the daily experience of Jesus which sustains and strengthens our hope, and which inspires our faithful discipleship. In their encounter with the risen Lord, we learn of the manner in which Jesus remains present until He comes again in glory. 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; may we be fired up to want to share our faith; 2) On our life’s journey of faith, it is only when we welcome the Risen Lord that He reveals his presence as He speaks to us in the scriptures and in the breaking of bread the Eucharist; 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, we too leave after this celebration to share the Good News we have discovered.
©2011 John S. Mbinda