01 May Third Sunday in Easter
Father Shawn Hughes
Third Sunday in Easter
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.
God bless you.
We have just heard that the two disciples were on the Road to Emmaus the very day of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday. They have just experienced what they think is one of the greatest disasters that could ever have taken place. Imagine…just a week earlier…they were probably among the crowds yelling Hosanna, Hosanna to the Son of David, as Jesus road triumphantly into Jerusalem…they probably eagerly anticipated celebrating Passover with Jesus in Jerusalem…and then on Good Friday their hopes were crushed…Jesus was crucified. They are broken-hearted. Their faces downcast.-gloomy, solemn, embittered, distressed, depressed, And it looks like everything that had been happening with Jesus, who they thought was the Messiah, has come to a complete and total failure. They feel forsaken and abandoned by God.
And the Risen Jesus Himself comes up and walks beside them. Jesus is pursing them…The same thing happens in our own disasters, disappointments, suffering and sorrows…How often have we too thought… this isn’t how things are supposed to go…Jesus doesn’t abandon the two disciples in their lack of faith…in their inability to see him…He is there with them in their disappointments…he goes with them on the road…he is there with us in our disappointments, in our suffering, in our sorrows. He doesn’t abandon us when our experience and our faith and our hope collide and don’t seem to make much sense.
But like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus…we don’t recognize him…we fail to see, to trust that he is with us…Imagine…they had travelled with Jesus for three years , witnessed all that he had done and they don’t recognize him. In their disappointment their hearts were closed. Jesus is right there and they don’t recognize him. Sometimes we get so focussed in on our own hurt, our own disappointment, our own suffering that we are closed…we can’t recognize the Lord.
So the Lord says to them…“What are you talking about?” And they are so taken aback that they actually stop and say: “Come on…“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, [h] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. ”
They had been with Jesus for three years…saw him do the most unbelievable things…walk on water, raise Lazarus from the dead…Like typical Jews of the time they thought the Messiah would be a triumphant king who would ride into Jerusalem and take up his throne in glory. They thought he would be like the great King David or the great prophet Moses…They were disappointed with Jesus. The last thing they expected is that he would undergo the most humiliating and painful punishment known to the ancient world;…to be crucified.
And so Jesus as he walks along with them; he listens to them, he is sharing with them their sense of pain and discouragement. He is interested in what they think. And then they proceed to tell him that there were some women among them who went and they found the tomb empty and they told that there were some angels who told them that Jesus was risen, but they hadn’t seen anything like that. In other words they don’t trust that the women’s testimony is reliable. During his Ministry Jesus had told them over and over that he had to go to Jerusalem, to suffer, die and that on the third day he would rise. Wouldn’t you think they would have believed him? Wouldn’t you think they would have run to the tomb instead of heading off to Emmaus. Sometimes in our own life when the Lord gives us something we don’t want, we don’t anticipate,…we head off in the opposite direction…stuck in our own thoughts and desires…our sins…not wanting to hear God’s will…stuck in our own will…
The Lord is so patient with them…so patient with us…Jesus says to them…and to us: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” (Luke 24:25) And then he begins to explain to them how everything written in the Scriptures was written about him. Jesus then goes through the Torah, the books of the Law, and the Prophets and shows them passage after passage how each of these prophecies pointed to him. He probably took them to Isaiah 53…called the Song of the Suffering Servant: “But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Perhaps he went to Psalm 22 “They have pierced my hands and my feet;” (Psalm 22:17) Perhaps he went to the Prophet Micah who said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-6) Jesus went through the entire Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish Bible, what we call the Old Testament and showed them how everything pointed to him.
They finally arrived at Emmaus where they were going and Jesus seemed to be going further but they said No come and “stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” (Luke 24:29) Isn’t it interesting that God waits for an invitation from us. He doesn’t force Himself on us. Jesus waits for us to invite him into our hearts, into our homes…into our disappointments, frustrations and suffering…Jesus wants to be called back…but he waits to be called. He gives us the choice…Sometimes we feel that God has gone on without us…it really is that we have not invited him in…that is the very definition of Loneliness…any place into which we have not invited the Lord.
They sat at table with him. He broke bread with them and they recognized who he was, their eyes were opened. That whole story is the pattern for how we encounter Jesus today. Here at Mass we first meet him in the Scriptures and we come to understand how all of Scripture is one great prophecy pointing to Jesus. In the Scriptures we come to know him…And then in the Liturgy of the Eucharist…he breaks bread and he gives us His very self, His very life. Do we recognize Jesus every time we receive Him in Holy Communion? We come to know through the Liturgy of the Word the one we receive in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
And at that moment they recognized Him Jesus disappeared from them. Now they knew it was true. He’s alive. He’s risen.
In the breaking of the bread: they recognized that Jesus was both Moses and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. That he was indeed the Saviour but also the sacrifice. That his kingship was as servant to all. In the moment of the breaking of the bread all of this came together.
And 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?” (Luke 24:32) Do our hearts burn within us? They saw and their hearts burned. Maybe we don’t see well enough when we hear the word proclaimed. When we receive Holy Communion…we need to pray our hearts are opened that we may see.
Now they suddenly understood the awesome plan of God. That the Messiah was to be a crucified messiah. Who would rise from the dead.
And they are so full of joy they run all the way back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the other disciples. And that too is just what happens at every Mass…We are commissioned to go and be ambassadors to Christ and share with the world the good news of Jesus who has revealed himself to us in his word and his breaking of the bread.
Jesus doesn’t stay where it is easy; where it is comfortable.
He goes after these two guys…he pursues them, tracks them down and tells and shows them the life of God For us, God has called us to be the kind of people who get on the road who pursue the broken, the outcast, the disillusioned, those who are walking away from God. God has called us to enter into their story and share the Word with them. To share with them all that is what God is doing for them.
This is what Pope Francis means by the term “missionary disciples” We all know people that are on the road to Emmaus…heading away from God…What would it look like for us to pursue them with the hope in which we live…is there someone in our lives that God is calling us to pursue?
Jesus pursued the lost…like the two disciples in the gospel…he pursued them…
Let’s conclude with a special prayer: to be disciples who stand in the truth of all Good Friday’s disappointments, frustrations and suffering and to be disciples who also stand in the Certain Hope that the Victory of Easter Sunday’s Resurrection gives us; and to be disciples with the missionary zeal to share that hope to those who do not have it.
Let us pray
Father, help us to be brave enough and honest enough to share with you our fears, our questions, our frustrations, our disappointments and our confusion as we walk along our road in life. Be with us when we are slow of heart to believe. Help us to be brave enough, wise enough, patient enough, generous enough to look into the Scriptures and see how all things point to you. Be with us in our disappointments, frustrations and sufferings. Help us to look to the Resurrection to see your Victory that offers us Life, peace, joy, purpose and hope. Help us to recognize you in the Breaking of the Bread, in the Eucharist and Lord, as you dwell within us, stay with us and set our hearts on fire. Amen.
The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!