Father Donald Senior, CP

April 30: Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; 1 Pt 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-36

The Scripture readings for this Sunday continue to bask in the glow of Easter. No Gospel account is more beautiful than Luke’s of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Two disciples leave Jerusalem, disillusioned and deeply sad because the Jesus they had loved had been struck down by the power of death.

Unrecognized at first, a stranger approaches them and walks with them on their sad journey. They share with him the tragic story of Jesus who was crucified — "We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel." To confuse things further, some "women from our group" discovered the tomb to be empty and claimed to have a vision of angels announcing that Jesus was alive, they tell the stranger.

The mysterious pilgrim begins to explain to them the meaning of the Scriptures and how "the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory." When they approach Emmaus, they urge this fellow traveler to stay with them. In the exquisite climax of the story, when Jesus dines with them, blessing and breaking the bread and giving it to them their eyes are opened and they realize that the one who was walking with them was Jesus himself.

They turn back to the community of disciples in Jerusalem, their hearts burning within them. When they arrive, they discover that the Risen Christ had already appeared to Simon Peter. Then the two disciples tell their experience on the road to Emmaus.

There is so much that can be taken from this memorable Gospel account: the comforting presence of the Risen Christ with his disciples; the power of the eucharistic meal that opens the minds and hearts of the disciples; the transformation from sorrow and disillusionment to joy and meaning. But there is another motif found here — the fact that Jesus appears to his disciples "on the road."

Their original intent was to abandon Jerusalem and the community of the disciples, but walking with Jesus, listening to him and breaking bread with him, turns them around and they go back to Jerusalem. It will be here that the power of the Spirit will fall on them and propel them on to a journey that will take them to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the Gospel.

Throughout the post-Easter season, we hear readings from Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, as we do in the first reading for today which is a portion of Peter’s Pentecost discourse in Jerusalem. Luke tells both the story of Jesus and the unfolding story of the early church in the framework of a journey — Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem; the missionary journey of the early church "from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria and the ends of the earth."

Viewing Christian life as a "journey" is a metaphor with deep biblical roots. In his sermon Peter cites Psalm 16, "You have made known to me the paths of life" — a refrain picked up in the Psalm response for today. The First Letter of Peter in today’s second reading also speaks of our lives as "a time of your sojourning." In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke will note that the name the first Christians gave to their community was "the people of the journey."

There is something compelling and comforting about this metaphor: our lives unfold as if on a journey, with some experiences we cannot foresee. We are not perfect. We haven’t "arrived" yet but are still on our way, experiencing both progress and setback.

Above all, we are conscious — as in the account of Emmaus — that the Risen Jesus walks with us on our life journey, lifting our hearts when we need comfort in our sadness, challenging our doubts and disillusionment, breaking the bread of life with us, never abandoning us, bringing us home.

The beautiful final verse of the psalm expresses our hope: "You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever."


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  • father donald senior