Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
“Do you recognize me David…?” was the question that was put to me at Holy Cross Cemetery after Adrice LeBlanc’s burial this past Wednesday. It can be rather frightening when someone asks this question… isn’t it? She is my 3rd cousin whom I haven’t seen in years… only at a family wedding or funeral. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew for sure who she was. I told her that I thought I recognized her when she came to communion…like everyone else, she had a mask on so it was her eyes… she has her mother’s eyes… that told me who she was.
Many times we go through life, rather fast, not recognizing the important things in life: such as our relatives and old friends. Or appreciate the beautiful things around us: such as the beauty of nature, the first hardy flowers of spring struggling to stay alive amidst the cold and snow; or the chirping of the birds, building theirs nests and reassuring us that spring is here. If anything positive has come from our covid story is that it has made us slow down and to recognize what and who is around us… more importantly… “who” (even though we are hidden behind masks).
Since Easter Sunday and every weekend after, there has been difficulty for the early followers of Jesus to recognize him as the risen Jesus. Since the beginning of his ministry, he shared intimately with his companions what was going to happen to him: rejected, suffer, die on a cross and then be raised on the third day. Although it has come to fruition, and he has rose from the dead, and appeared to some of them, they don’t get it.
Look at Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene, one of his closes friends does not recognize Jesus at the tomb-she thought he was the gardener. And last weekend, Thomas doubted the presence of Jesus unless he not only saw him but touched the wounds of Jesus… he would not believe. Today, we have the people walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and they do not recognize him… only when he breaks bread with them.
As he did last week, Jesus comes and stands among them and blesses them with “Peace be with you.” Then we heard that, even though he showed them his hands and feet and invited them to touch him, “they were terrified and thought that he was a ghost.” We’re even told that although he is standing there among them, ‘in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering… in their hearts” Again, they just didn’t get it! Finally he asks for a piece of fish and eats it! Jesus had risen! Period!
What about us? We know that God is not into magic or tricks or splashy entrances. With that in mind, how many times do we fail to recognize the risen Jesus in the ordinary and the mundane or is it only when we are in church? Why is it for some that we need to have him placed in an elaborate monstrance with candles for adoration, and yet fail to recognize Jesus in the peace of a quiet space…or outside in nature or sitting with Jesus in conversation… or prayer? And visa-versa: those who struggle to see the risen Jesus the broken bread but not in ourselves?
Or those who will recognize the resurrected Jesus in the broken bread that we share but fail to see the same Jesus in the broken people, such as prostitutes and homeless who live on our streets or in the lives of everyday people? I am convinced that unless we are broken and recognize and embrace that brokenness then we will not be able to recognize the brokenness in others.
So, we gather weekly as a community to share our brokenness our struggles in life all found in the broken bread, the Eucharist that we share. And just as the breaking of the break, a simple gesture allowed those early followers to recognize Jesus, may we recognize the same Risen Jesus in the brokenness of one another. After all Jesus reminds us in the very last line in the gospel, which says it best: “we are witnesses of these things.” Amen.