Father Donald Senior, CP

April 26: Third Sunday of Easter

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Jesus shows the way

Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11; 1 Pt 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35

Like most people, I have been lost a few times, trying to find my way in a new city or unfamiliar neighborhood. My classmate Alan, however, got dangerously lost a few weeks ago.

He loves photography, and on a day off decided to venture out into the desert west of Los Angeles to take shots of a remote canyon recommended to him by a fellow photographer. He left his car on the side of the road and hiked for an hour to the canyon. After taking several photos of its raw beauty, he started to retrace his steps back to the car. 

Only after walking much longer than it should have taken did he realize he had gone in the wrong direction and was lost in the middle of nowhere. Eventually darkness fell and was so dense that Alan could not see his hand in front of his face, much less stay on the path. So he decided to sit down right where he was and wait for daylight. 

When it finally came, he found himself fighting panic as he started walking again, hoping he would find something or someone to lead him to safety. After what seemed like a long time, he spotted a highway in the distance and managed to flag down a police car. The first thing he asked for was a drink of water.

I hope this doesn’t seem like a shaggy dog story, but Alan’s harrowing experience came to mind in the light of this Sunday’s readings. The notion of taking a journey and being on the right path is a metaphor for human experience that runs through the entire Bible.

We can think of Abraham’s primal journey, directed by God to travel to the land of Canaan. Or the great defining journey of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the promised land. Of course, the Gospel writers frame Jesus’ public ministry as a fateful journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, where he will experience death and resurrection.

Today’s psalm response, which often sets the tone for the other readings, is from Psalm 16 and sounds the same refrain we are talking about: “Lord, you will show us the path of life.” This is also picked up in the Alleluia verse before the Gospel reading: “You will show me the path to life, abundant joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

But perhaps no journey is more famous than today’s account from Luke’s Gospel of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. We all know this enchanting story.

Two disciples, Cleopas and an unnamed companion, begin a sad journey, leaving behind Jerusalem and all their hopes, which were dashed by the tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion. Suddenly, they are joined by the risen Jesus himself, but, as in so many of these resurrection appearance stories, they do not recognize him.

Jesus seems to ask them playfully what events have made them so brokenhearted and lost. Then he begins to open the beauty and power of the Scriptures to them and, as they later confess, “our hearts were burning within us while he spoke to us on the journey.” 

This exquisite story concludes when they prevail upon Jesus to dine with them. When Jesus says the blessing and breaks bread with them, their eyes are opened and they recognize Jesus is with them.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke informs us that the early Christians called themselves “the people of the Way.” Every serious journey involves decisions about what to take, saying goodbye to those at home, setting out never completely sure what we will experience on the road, and, finally — hopefully — arriving at our destination. If we go astray, our journey can be frustrating, if not dangerous. 

I believe these are some of the reasons why the notion of journey is so central to the Bible and to our Christian experience. As people of faith, we trust that our ultimate life journey is to God. But isn’t it true in this strange pandemic season, we are concerned what the journey of life holds for us now? Today’s readings remind us that the Risen Christ walks with us. “Lord, show us the path to life.”


  • scripture