April 30th, 2017; Third Sunday of Easter
Gospel of Luke 24:13-35
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, 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, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
We are an Easter people. Christians celebrate the Lord’s day on Sunday, the first day of the Jewish week, the day of Christ’s resurrection and the beginning of our new life in Him. The first day Christ rose from the dead, He visited His people, and He continues to visit us today.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our journey of faith includes moments of inspiration and awe, as well as confusion and discouragement. At times, Christ’s teachings strike our hearts with the force of truth and His deeds inspire us to marvel at the miracles He works in our daily lives. At other times, He seems hidden; or the Church, His Mystical Body, seems defeated by the world. Like Cleopas, we struggle to understand how the promise of freedom can be accomplished through suffering rather than political strength.
As disciples, which means followers, we can become too comfortable in our relationship with the Lord. Christ meets us in our most vulnerable state. He makes Himself close to us, even in our humanity. At times, He veils His divinity, that we might approach Him. Yet, we need to remember, that Christ is the Lord and that His immanence proceeds from His loving desire to relate to us, not from a shared limitation as us. St. Paul proclaims this mystery to the Philippians when he writes,
|“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The Christian journey, like the Road to Emmaus, requires faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. It means trusting Him who is both man and God. This means that we will have times of elation where our hearts burn within us, and times of confusion. We must remember, as Isaiah prophesied:
|“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” Isaiah 55:8
In these moments, we can follow the example of the two disciples in today’s Gospel. They considered everything that had happened in fellowship together. We too should turn to Christian friends for spiritual guidance and comfort. They listened to Christ when He appeared, even though they didn’t realize it was Him at first. If we keep our hearts open as we do our daily duties, He can speak to us as well without realizing it at first. Jesus turned them to Scripture to understand what had happened, and His Holy Spirit can open our minds to understand Scripture more deeply. Their bible study walk with the Lord opened their minds to see God’s plan in a way they had not before. We too should make an effort to get into our bibles, even reading a bible-study book or listening to Christian podcasts. As the walk came to an end, Jesus did not push Himself on them. Rather He provided an opportunity for them to separate from Him politely by pretending to be going on. Thankfully, the two disciples invited Him in for dinner and pressed Him to stay. Christ makes Himself available to us, and even takes the initiative in our relationship, nevertheless He desires that we invite Him in further. Seemingly valid excuses will always present themselves to leave our Lord and go off to do something else. We must resist letting our Lord walk on without us, and press Him to accompany us in each aspect of our day.
Lastly, the disciples recognized Christ in the breaking of the bread. He made Himself known to them at Sunday Mass. The Church calls the Eucharist the “source and summit of our faith” because it is the Sacrament of Christ’s Real Presence – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Son of God, who became incarnate, and “pitched His tent among us” (John 1:14), continues to dwell with us in an immanent way in the Eucharist. He makes Himself available in every tabernacle, in every Catholic Church, around the world. All we need to do, is come and break bread with Him.
Our Christian faith is not a philosophy. It’s an encounter with our Lord. Founded on relationship, our faith grows deeper through time spent with Him in the Eucharist, in conversation, in Scripture, and in our daily walk. Jesus suffered for us and with us. His Cross is a mystery we will revisit throughout our Christian journey. In times of confusion, we can take heart that He is near, He will bring understanding in His time, and that He is victorious.
- Reflect on what it means to be an Easter people. How does the joy of the Resurrection, shape your worldview?
- When have you experienced the humility of Christ? When has He seemed especially near, compassionate, or merciful?
- When has your faith required trust in the Person of Christ rather than human wisdom?
- Imagine walking on the Road to Emmaus with Jesus. Who would be the Christian friend with you on the journey. What might you be saying to one another? What would your reaction be when He revealed Himself in the breaking of the Bread?
- How might you walk with the Lord each day?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Begin each day inviting Christ to walk with you and eat with you.
- Think through your schedule for the day – offer each thing to the Lord. Pray for the grace to shine His light to all those you meet, offer your work as a sacrifice of praise, and pray for the graces needed to meet any challenging people or tasks ahead of you.
- Visit the Lord in the breaking of the bread by spending time with Him at Eucharistic adoration, praying before Him in the tabernacle at your Church, or attending a daily Mass.
- Make time for spiritual conversation with a Christian friend.
Hope When Least Expected
Climbing the Mountain of God By Way of the Valley of Humility
Following Christ at all Costs
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017
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