CACINA

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A 2014

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on April 27, 2014

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A 2014

 “Lord, you will show me the path of life” is what we repeat in our psalm antiphon today. The idea of the path or the “way” was such a strong theme in the new Testament that the early Christians adopted it as their name – the Way. And we know in John that Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Similarly in today’s first reading we hear again David’s words: “You have made known to me the way of life”, applied to Jesus.

The quest archetype is a story that occurs in all literatures. Usually, though, the quest is undertaken by a hero, sometimes a hero that doesn’t yet know that he or she is heroic, and goes on a physical journey fighting off all sorts of enemies or demons, but is at the end triumphant.

The “way” that is described in our Gospel today is a type of quest also, a journey. But the quest archetype so often seen in fairy tales and myths is quite turned around.

The questers in the story of the road to Emmaus are two disciples of Jesus. Their quest, their journey could have been simply to escape the strange goings-on surrounding the death and disappearance of Jesus. They may have been afraid and were simply trying to leave the area and put it behind them. Another possibility is that they were on a quest to find others that followed Jesus and see if they knew any more about the strange and frightening happenings.  In either case, the two men were on the road having a discussion about what they had heard and seen and were trying to piece together the truth of all that was going on.  Their quest simply may have been for the truth.

It is interesting to note that Luke says “their eyes were kept from recognizing [Jesus].” Most commentators find this problematic.  Wouldn’t these two disciples have recognized Jesus? Had he changed that much physically? Luke says simply that they didn’t recognize Jesus because Jesus did not want them to. Perhaps in Jesus’ mind, the only way to clarify their questions and fears was through discussion and enlightenment, and not through miracle. It is by talking to the two men that Jesus is able to clarify the reversed idea of a Messiah who suffers and dies, and then enters his glory. Only through “opening up the scriptures”, letting the two see what the words of the prophets meant, were they able to understand intellectually what the truth was and what it meant for all of us. How ironic that the way and the truth was walking right alongside them all along.

After walking with the disciples all day and expounding on the meaning of Scripture in relationship to Jesus and what had just happened to him, it was becoming night and the two men invited Jesus to stay with them for the night. The recognition scene takes place at supper, and most commentators see this as a reference to the Eucharistic meal: “he took bread, blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.” These are the same words we hear at Mass each week, when Jesus also becomes physically present to us as well. Do we pay enough attention to that moment? Has repetition dulled the miraculous thing that happens at each Eucharistic meal. Do our eyes become opened to see Jesus? These are all questions I would like you to consider today. 

We, too are like the disciples going to Emmaus. We too might be escaping, or seeking answers. We too are on quests for truth in our lives. 

After the moment of recognition Jesus disappears. In Eucharistic terms we might say that Jesus is now within them through the eating of the bread. There was no need for his physical body to be present to them.  Jesus had stirred their minds to understand, he had fed them, and he remains with them in spirit.

The truth having been made known, the disciples no longer needed to go to Emmaus and instead took a different path – the path to Jerusalem and to the other apostles and disciples. And they shared their good news, their new understandings with them, and showed how Jesus had been made known in the breaking of the bread.

How blessed we are to have this event recreated each week for us, allowing us to understand a little more each week. The Mass is our journey to Emmaus and the Eucharist is our recognition of Jesus and what God has done for us. St. Paul says that Christ was “ destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.”  For your sake! Whether Jesus is still blinding you toward who he is and the truth, and still in process of helping you to understand, or whether your eyes have already been opened to the miracle that is Christ visible, the story of the road to Emmaus should give us hope and confidence, and we can say with David as quoted in the first reading today: I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope.

As we continue our Easter journey, my wish for you is that you discover that abiding hope, that you become increasingly more aware of the ritual that is the Eucharistic Mass, that Jesus becomes present to you each week in a wide variety of ways, and that my words may be Jesus’ words in an attempt to help you understand the Scriptures, and open them up for you. 

Then, like the two disciples, we can talk to the other disciples and share their stories – the stories of how they found that Truth who was walking beside them all along.

May the Good News of today be good news for you each week as we celebrate the risen Lord who helps us when we are on our journeys.

Bishop Ron Stephens 

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

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