Reflection on the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Cycle A
Acts 2:14.22-33; 1 Pt. 1:17-21; Lk. 24:13-35
Luke’s Gospel is centered on Jerusalem. It begins with Zechariah serving at the temple in Jerusalem and the Archangel Gabriel announcing the birth of John the Baptist and ends up with the Apostles in Jerusalem after the Ascension awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Salvation was to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Therefore, moving away from Jerusalem meant moving away from the center of Salvation. Even this episode of going to Emmaus ends up with a return to Jerusalem to be one again with the whole nascent Church in Jerusalem.
And yet Jesus walks with them, like the Shepherd looking for the lost sheep. He did not allow them to be lost, he went after them, caught up with them so he could bring them back to the fold. So is it with us, even when we stray away from the road to salvation, Jesus comes after us, walks with us, awaiting for our decision to turn back to him. He talks to us through the Gospels, the homilies of the priests, the retreats and recollections and other reading materials he puts in our path just to remind us of him and our Father’s call to conversion.
At first our eyes are veiled because we cling to our own way of thinking, our own interpretation of events or of Scriptures. But if we allow the words of Scriptures to penetrate our hearts, and the Holy Spirit to guide us, our hearts will surely begin to burn within us.
They were downcast as they walked and talked about Jesus. They did love him and put their hopes in him “as a prophet mighty in deed and word.” But they lacked trust in those who announced his resurrection. They were men of their own time, not trusting the word of women. The women mentioned that they were told by angels that “he was alive”, yet they did not accept the word of the messenger from heaven. Thus Jesus rebuked them as “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke” that the “Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” The Jews of Jesus’ time thought that the Messiah was to lead Israel to oust the Romans, restore the Davidic kingdom, and bring prosperity to Israel. Many of us have succumb to the “Prosperity Gospel” thinking that, because we believe in God and serve him, we will experience only gifts and blessings in this life. We forget that to become true disciples of Christ we must “deny the self, take up our cross and follow him.”
Still there was goodness in their heart, they invited this stranger to come in with them; “Stay with us.” Because of this kindness in their hearts, Jesus came in and allowed them to recognize him. Do we show kindness only to our friends? Do we love only those who love us? What is extraordinary about that, even wicked men love those who love them! The two disciples gave him a listening ear along the way when they did not yet know him, and invited him to stay with them for it was getting late. There was still goodness in their heart and Jesus did not want to lose them. He wanted to bring them back to the fold and so he stayed with them. A spark of goodness and kindness was in their hearts and Jesus nurtured that.
“While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” We hear the very words of the Eucharistic institution at the Last Supper. “With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” What a great gift! It is in the Eucharist that we have Jesus truly present for us “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.” Do I recognize him? There are times we take him for granted, and we do not behave with reverence in our Churches. We visit the mayor or congressman in our best attire, yet many come to Church and even receive communion in shorts and slippers. Bridesmaids in weddings are backless or strapless. Do I really recognize Jesus in the Eucharist? “So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem.” They go back to the center of salvific events. It was in Jerusalem that the community was found, they were to be united once more into the Body of Christ. They were to rejoice with the whole Church in the resurrection of the Lord, and, with the Blessed Mother in their midst, they were to receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.