3rd Sunday of Easter Homily
So much has happened to us since mid Lent. However, our Easter journey and our ‘Easter lives’ continue to unfold for us. Literally, our world has been turned up-side-down due to covid 19 and the fall out that comes with it. Add to this the mass and senseless shootings last week makes us stop in our tracks and ask, “What is going on?” Or those of us who live lives of faith are left asking, “Where is the hope?”
Today we are reminded of the hope that Jesus himself gives us, even if we are at the point of total deflation. Just prior to their trip to Emmaus, the disciples are told by Mary Magdalen, Joanna, Mary and the other women that an angel appeared at Jesus’ empty tomb, proclaiming that he had risen, and asking, “why do you look for the living among the dead?” But the disciples did not believe them and set off toward Emmaus, rambling on about the events of the past week.
Soon Jesus joins them on their journey and beings asking questions that challenge them to reflect upon what has happened and to share what they believe. But Jesus is shocked that although they can recount the events of this life and death, they do not believe in the resurrection. Even after Jesus interprets the Scriptures in the hope of generating faith, the disciples still remain blind.
The journey these disciples take to Emmaus is not unlike our own spiritual journeys. We, too, have been told of ‘Jesus’ death and resurrection, yet we struggle with its meaning. We too have been confronted the Word and yet we remain blind. And although each of us has experienced the Lord’s own presence in our own lives, do we truly recognize Jesus?
Everything those disciples needed on the road to Emmaus was in front of them: the memory of experiencing Jesus as ‘a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” a message from the angels explaining the meaning of the empty tomb, and the presence of Jesus himself, interpreting the Scriptures. But they could not recognize Jesus because his presence was beyond all logical expectations. The heart, however, operates outside of logic and provides others ways to grasp reality. The two disciples began listening to their hearts burning within them when they offered the stranger hospitality. They gave free reign to their hearts when the stranger prayed and broke bread with them.
In these turbulent and yet hope filled times, what is our heart telling us today? One of my great mentors, Fr. Frank McDonald always reminded the former community of St. Alphonsus (now Blessed Trinity) that if we allow it, the heart has the ability to see more clearly than the mind. Those on the Road to Emmaus finally ‘recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, and their eyes were opened and then the recognized Jesus’.
Although we are on a Eucharistic Fast, because of covid 19, in due time we will gather and break bread again. Until then, let us keep our hearts open to the gifts of a sunrise, wild flowers, the gold finches, the phone calls from caring family and friends and in the prayers we say for others. For when we do this, truly, the resurrected Jesus is walking with us on our ‘road of faith’ offering us encouragement, love and above all else… hope! Amen