Sunday, April 27, 2014

3rd Sunday of Easter - The Mystery of the Risen Christ Continues to Unfold

Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter - Year A:
Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

The readings of the 3rd Sunday of Easter include a bold proclamation of the resurrection (Acts), a moral exhortation for the newly baptized (1 Peter) and the appearance of the Risen Jesus to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke). Each text illumines a different feature of the Easter mystery in which believers are immersed during this season. In this reflection, we will ponder the drama of the Emmaus narrative.

Devastated by “the things that have been happening there these last few days” in Jerusalem, the two disciples of Jesus were leaving the city – their place of sorrow and despair. Sounds familiar? We hate to admit it, but the truth is: we are the two disciples. When confronted with problems, when overwhelmed by heart-breaking experiences, we often choose to run!

Like other resurrection appearances, this one is marked by delayed recognition: when they saw Jesus, they recognized him not. In Luke’s words, “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him”. Anger, vengeance, fear, despair, bewilderment, other emotions and human frailties can often keep us from seeing the truth.

Then something very interesting happened. While they were having meal with Jesus, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him”! How did this come about? Apparently, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread; in the actions of taking, blessing, breaking, and giving – the familiar ones highlighted in the feeding of the five thousand and the last supper! When our priests use the same actions to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy, will our eyes also be opened wide to recognize Jesus in the bread and wine?

Rejuvenated and enlightened, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, the place that they had rejected, to share their joyful and mystical experience of encountering the Risen Christ. As Christians, our Jerusalem is this world, which we often wish to flee. Now that we are also rejuvenated and enlightened by the Easter mystery, let us follow the example of the two disciples to bravely embrace the world, sharing our joy and hope with those who have yet to experience the grace of encountering the Risen Christ!

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A, Foundations in Faith, RCL, Texas, 1998
Henri Nouwen, With Burning Hearts - A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life, Orbis, Maryknoll, New York, 1994

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