Third Sunday of Easter, April 26
May Each of Us Encounter the Risen Christ in the Faith Which We Profess and Practice in Our Daily Lives.
Today’s Gospel Reading may seem familiar, for it is the same Reading which we reflected upon eleven days ago. What makes today’s meditation different, however, is the relationship which our other Readings have with the Gospel, and how, taken as a whole, they influence the way we reflect upon God’s Word in our daily lives.
Peter, in today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, with great courage and inspiration, given him by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, speaks to a large crowd of Jews from several different nations who were staying in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast Shavuot, or Feast of Weeks, and had assembled out of curiosity due to the events which just occurred in the Upper Room –
“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 it forth, as you see and hear.”
Peter attests to the fact that this Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and was raised up from the dead, is the prophesied Messiah talked about by David in the Old Testament Psalms. Peter is proclaiming this truth, not in accusation or blame, but rather for the sake of conversion of heart for the Jews to whom he was preaching.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s most wondrous gift to each and every one of us, a gift which enables us, with the help of God’s grace, to become co-heirs with Christ – all as a result of the sacrificial offering of Himself, the offering of “the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb”! And, Peter reminds us in our Second Reading about how precious we are in God’s sight, since His Son has paid such a high price in order to ransom us from our slavery to sin and death.
And yet, it took time for those closest to our Lord to fully realize and comprehend all that was taking place, beginning with Jesus’ Passion and Death. For we find in today’s Gospel Reading the famous story of the journey to Emmaus – a journey which first started off with sadness and despondency, a sense of depression due to Jesus’ death and their lack of understanding of the Old Testament prophecies regarding all that the Messiah would have to endure.
Then, Jesus joins them on their journey, and, all the while keeping His identity hidden from the two disciples, He unpacks the Scriptures for them. And after reaching their destination, and, at the blessing and the breaking of the bread, Scripture tells us, “…their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” For it was in the breaking of the bread which took them back to the evening of the Last Supper.
As I had mentioned in a previous meditation, the story of Emmaus, for me, is the story about each one of us. It is the story about spiritual darkness and spiritual awakening. For most of us, we grew up learning about this Jesus of Nazareth, the Eternal Son of God made flesh, who became Man so that He would teach us of the very Nature of our God – a God of unfathomable Love and limitless Mercy. And that, in this Divine Love, the Word made flesh would offer Himself up to a sacrificial and holy Death so that you and I might have eternal life in His Name.
But for those who walked with Jesus, who heard Him speak, who saw the miracles He performed – witnessing the miracles of the loaves and fishes, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the raising of Lazarus, the healing of the lame, the blind, the deaf, and so much more – Jesus’ horrific suffering and death on a Cross became a darkness which enveloped their entire being!
And, in this darkness, they were unable to grasp or understand what all these events truly meant. In this darkness, they lost hope.
For the disciples who were journeying to their home in Emmaus, they were walking without any sense of optimism; their hearts were filled with despair. But after the Risen Lord joined them in their journey, He slowly opened their minds to all that was written about Him by Moses and the prophets.
Is not each of our lives a faith journey, with its many ups and downs, its seemingly countless peaks and valleys? Is not our life itself a journey of sorts to our own Emmaus, where Jesus will eventually open our eyes to His Most Wondrous Presence?
Just as the Jewish people in today’s First Reading, to whom Peter was proclaiming the fulfillment of God’s plan through Jesus, were struggling with their own faith journey – and coming to terms with all they had done to this Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus, too, wishes to reach out to each one of us with His Truth, to heal us of those times when we, too, have nailed Him to the Cross through our own blindness and sinfulness.
In addition, have we not had events in our lives which sorely tested out faith – maybe a death of a loved one, unbearable guilt due to an abortion, unemployment, homelessness, separation or divorce, abuse, disease, incurable illness, and so much more?
Have we not heard the question asked many times before, “Where is God in all my troubles?” “Why me?”
It is just that, at times when we are at our lowest, when the weight of despair seems to be at its greatest, we tend to close our eyes and not recognize His Loving Presence standing next to us, walking with us, just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
When we have our crosses to bear, and sometimes they do seem very heavy, it is Jesus Himself who symbolically becomes like Simon of Cyrene helping us to carry ours, just as Simon helped Jesus to carry His Cross on His journey to Calvary.
And eventually, at some point along our journey – a journey which first started off in what seemed like darkness – we begin to see a light; we find ourselves being lifted up! We begin to come to a better understanding of what has happened to us; we begin to grasp a truth which we did not have before, just as the disciples had said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way?”
In an Easter homily our late Holy Father, Pope Saint John Paul II gave back in 1993, he said, “Like the two disciples spoken of in the Gospel passage proclaimed a little while ago, we too are on the road to Emmaus today. We are journeying with those two disciples who received the gift of a miraculous encounter with the Risen Christ.”
May each of us encounter the Risen Christ in the faith which we profess and practice in our daily lives. May we meet Him in those who suffer from persecution, sickness, hunger and poverty. And may we experience Him in the virtues of charity and selfless love which we are called upon to give to others.
And may all our journeys in life ultimately lead us to our personal Emmaus, where we shall truly encounter the Risen Christ in our midst!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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 it forth, as you see and hear.” (Acts 2:32-33)
- “I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1b-2)
- “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13a)
- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
- “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrew 10:23)
Prayer for the Day
“Hail, Most Merciful Heart of Jesus,
Living Fountain of all graces,
Our sole shelter, our only refuge;
In You I have the light of hope.
“Hail, most compassionate Heart of my God,
Unfathomable living Fount of Love
From which gushes life for sinful man
And the spring of all sweetness.
“Hail, open Wound of the Most Sacred Heart,
From which the rays of mercy issued forth
And from which it was given us to draw life
With the vessel of trust alone.
“Hail, God’s goodness, incomprehensible,
Never to be measured or fathomed,
Full of love and mercy, though always holy,
Yet, like a good mother, ever bent o’er us.
“Hail, Throne of Mercy, Lamb of God,Saint Faustina (Diary, 1321)
Who gave Your life in sacrifice for me,
Before whom my soul humbles itself daily,
Living in faith profound.”