3rd Sunday of Easter ~ 23 April 2023 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I; Acts 2:14,22-23; Responsorial: Psalm 16; II: I Peter 1: 17-21; Gospel: Luke 24: 13 – 35

The Road to Emmaus ~ A Timeless Journey

The beauty and hope of the Easter season continue. The message of Jesus, risen from the dead echoes in our churches, hearts, and minds. The early disciples were amazed at this development. It was not what they believed or understood would happen with Christ. Although over 2000 years later Christians today still are amazed and struggle with believing what we proclaim. In our Catholic worship, the season and celebration of the resurrection will continue until the Day of Pentecost. This is shared with many other Christian believers. Although sadly the celebration and message of Easter are focused only upon that one Sunday in Spring. Regardless there is shared a real challenge among the followers of Christ to live a faith where Jesus is experienced, recognized, and heard as having truly risen from the dead.

The Easter Gospel story of Jesus coming to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is shared this 3rd Sunday of Easter. There is much to which we can relate, even these two thousand-plus years later to the journey of these early Christians. Seeking the Holy Spirit’s help we can realize we share the road with them and learn how we can grow in the graces to better recognize Jesus and hear the Word of God.

First, let’s clarify what it means to see. recognize Jesus. Christ promised in the Beatitudes that blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. In honest humility, purity of heart is a grace for which almost all of us seek to grow yet one which we cannot claim to have attained. So are we precluded from this promise? I believe that fulfillment is a gift that will only be fully experienced when the fullness of God’s sanctifying mercies is achieved. But I believe it is a grace to which we are called to grow as we follow our risen Savior. We must seek and allow His work in our lives to prepare our eyes and ears for the infinite majesty, glory, and beauty of His holiness and love. That work is done as we walk with him. It is done as we learn and allow ourselves to listen. But first, Why? Why do we fail to recognize and hear Jesus?

As we walk on our Emmaus roads we need to learn from the two disciples who first walked and would accompany us now. They were Christians. They had been following Jesus. They knew Him and listened to His Word. They had been with the others in the coming to Jerusalem. Their hopes had soared with the triumphant entry of the Messiah into the City of God! Strong was their faith and understanding that Jesus was the Messiah that would conquer and remove the pagan Romans from their midst. Their faith was jubilant that their traditions and understandings of the Law and Prophets would be restored. But Holy Week, the Passion and death of Jesus crushed those hopes. Intensely. Then the women, gone to the grave to tend his body came back saying the tomb was empty. Some said they had seen Jesus. The incredible accounts slowly were growing. They now had to go about their lives. Uncertain, amazed, scared, yet also excited. But their faith and their hearts were not yet ready for all God would do. They must grow on, with Him. And so must we. We must let go of the immature, incomplete perceptions of faith, God, and all that the Kingdom of God means.

Jesus drew near and walked with them. And so Jesus seeks to draw close, to walk with us. As the two discussed and struggled with their faith and the Gospel message Jesus listened. Drawing out their challenges he leads them to hear and listen to God. In heart-kindling faith they awaken, slowly to hope, to believe, and to walk on, with God. Soon it is evening. They open their hearts and hospitality and welcome this Stranger who has accompanied them. The journey had been long. They were ready to eat their meal and rest. Little did they, or do we, realize what, or when God may reveal more of himself, His Kingdom to us. As the bread was broken their eyes were opened. They recognized Jesus.

They were good, faithful Hebrew followers of Jesus. They knew and had a strong understanding of the Law and Prophets and about the Messiah, about Jesus. But then, as now, God is, and God has so much more. The tomb, in so many ways, represents the efforts of humanity to confine, and control God. Jesus refused to comply with the expectations and demands of the minds and souls of that time. The deadly confines of sin, doubt, fear, and hate mortared together by pride and the weapons of this world could not keep Jesus dead. And it was as Jesus walked with them, and with us, it is as we allow Jesus to share His Real Presence with us in the bread and cup we accompany Him and each other away from the tomb into the freedom of His holy Cross.

Jesus, can we recognize You? Hear You? We will grow to better hear the Words of God as we let go of and turn off the cacophony of noise and voices with which the forces of this world seek to bombard us. We cannot always quell the noise and clamor of the world. But we can learn to discern and reject the barrages of anger, fear, and doubt that even many “Christian” outlets would spew forth. Is what I am hearing, dwelling upon building up my faith in God? Or do these messages impel me to worry, and seek ways and weapons that I think I control to secure my life? Am I placing my faith in a pill, an APP, or a gun? Or is my trust growing in Jesus?

And am I growing to recognize Jesus Present, truly, fully in the Host I receive at holy Communion? And do I allow His very Real Presence to then go forth and empower me to recognize Him in the poor, the immigrant, or in my neighbor? Even if they may live in ways I think are wrong or disordered? And am I growing in the freedom to recognize God’s glory in creation, a spring day, or the storms of life that I endure? Do I let the Holy Spirit, perhaps in what seem to be the ruins of my faith, raise my heart and eyes to recognize that it is, indeed from the tombs of life we are called to raise our souls to, and with God?

The roads to Emmause are many and continue to the holy thresholds of eternity. But we do not walk these ways alone. We must recognize Jesus is with us as we walk together. And we must remember the saints who have gone on before will meet and journey with us. And it is they who can especially help us to truly experience the truth we can recognize and hear Jesus as we follow Him. Pax et bonum.