3rd Sunday of Easter-Cycle A-2017
FIRST READING Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ “My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”
SECOND READING 1 Peter 1:17-21
Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
GOSPEL 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.
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
“God raised him up!” “Were not our heats burning within us?” The experiences of these early followers of Jesus was incredible. They went through completely doubt, through denial, through sadness, through lack of hope—and then…. Jesus begins to show up in their lives again, not as a memory, but as a living, eating, sleeping and completely present person once more—but not seen by everyone. What an odd experience and how challenging!
This experience of Peter and of others eventually was expressed in these words: “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.” Even to this day, many doubt and yet many are moved by this witness and believe. Once we believe, our lives are changed because this world no longer is the end of life but only the beginning. For sure, many of believers are not very people at many levels, just as many of the early believers were also weak and uneducated and sometimes social outcasts. But when we believe, this life becomes so different and so full of possibilities of following Jesus.
Our faith and our hope are now in God and life is not a prison nor a place of competition, but simply a time to do the best we can in serving a God who loves us and invites us to strive to live out His love in this world, even if we fail over and over. We always remember the words of Jesus: I came for sinners, not for the righteous.
Inn today’s Gospel from Saint Luke, we have the wonderful story of Jesus meeting some of those who had followed Him but were now discouraged by the crucifixion. They did not yet believe in His Resurrection. They even tell Jesus about the women who went to the tomb and did not find the body! They tell Him about others who went to the tomb. Yet, at this point, these people who had followed Him still do not believe! They are like the Apostle Thomas: Unless I myself see Him and touch Him and have an experience, I will not believe!
Lots of us are like these early followers: discouraged when we ourselves do not have some immediate and strong experience of the Lord.
We are invited today to meet the Lord again, almost for the first time, when we see Him present in the breaking of the bread. We are invited to look once more at the Holy Scriptures and discover how God has spoken through all the ages, inviting us to believe, little by little. We are invited to listen to the testimony of those who already believe, and particularly to the testimony of the many saints and martyrs of our own time. As we listen, then perhaps like these followers on the road to Emmaus, we might come to feel the warmth in our heart, perhaps even our hearts burning within us!
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! Alleluia!
Your brother in the Lord,