Homily for the third Sunday of Easter - Year A - Lk. 24:13-35


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, 'What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?' And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, 'Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these

days?' And he said to them, 'What things?' And they said to him, 'Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.'


"And he said to them, 'O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.


"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, 'Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.' So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?'


"And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, 'The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!' Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread."





Homily:


"That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him."


This Sunday's gospel takes place during Easter evening, when the risen Jesus took a little walk with two of his disciples who were on their way to a village named Emmaus, not far from Jerusalem. But just as in the case of Mary Magdalen on the morning of the Resurrection, Jesus did not allow himself to be recognized right away: he first wants to prepare the spirit of his disciples before manifesting himself to them...


"And he said to them, 'What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?' And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, 'Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?' And he said to them, 'What things?' And they said to him, 'Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.' "


We can clearly see that the disciples of Jesus have lost all hope. Or rather, they have lost all the false hope they had placed in Jesus: "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." This is indeed a false hope, for Jesus did not come to earth to reign as a king in the manner of the princes of this world. Jesus said so to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world." (Jn. 18:36) A disappointed hope, certainly. But so what? What is important is to have the truth! Therefore some of our hopes must be disappointed in this life: this shows us how the road that we must follow is not precisely the one we thought it would be!


So why did Jesus come to earth? Was it to make us happy on earth or in Heaven? The answer is simple: both! But we must be sure to keep our priorities straight: first Heaven, then the earth. When we place the earth before Heaven, that is when we go astray: our hope is disappointed, because it is false! Let us respect the order of things: first Heaven, and then the earth! This is what the disciples of Jesus had forgotten... And what about us? Are we not a little like them? Sometimes, or often?


" 'Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.' "


We all have a guardian angel: he is always there, close to us. When we are discouraged, he tries to raise our morale. In fact, his work is not easy, although he does not undergo any suffering. This difficulty comes from us: it is we who are not attentive enough to his words... words that we nonetheless need very much... for they are our comfort!


The same thing happened with the disciples who were going to Emmaus. But here the counsels of their guardian angel were made concrete, in a way, by the proclamation of the Resurrection of the Savior by women who belonged to their group, those who had gone to the tomb on Easter morning. The disciples had in that proclamation a life preserver, a hand held out to them by Providence to help them to believe and to restore their hope! But alas... It was in vain...


"And he said to them, 'O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."


Jesus' reproach was not long delayed. But it was a tender reproach... so as not to harm these delicate souls... so as not to quench the smoldering wick... So, Jesus explains to his disciples the meaning of the Scriptures: he opens up their minds in order that their hearts might be stirred and that they might regain hope, a well-founded hope, one that looks first to Heaven, and then to earth. And he tells them this admirable saying: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"


"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, 'Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.' So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?' "


"Stay with us." "Mane nobiscum Domine." These few words demonstrate that the heart of the disciples had already totally changed: Jesus can presently reveal himself to them, for they are more closely attached to Jesus than to anyone or anything else! And Jesus will do once again what he had done on the night of Holy Thursday: he takes bread and breaks it in their presence!


The breaking of the bread is the celebration of the Eucharist, it is entering into communion with Jesus, a communion of the spirit and of the body, a communion that goes to the point of participation in the sufferings of the Savior, broken in both soul and body... The breaking of the bread is the reception from the Lord of his own life in participation, to the extent that we are united to his Passion: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to turn our hope towards heaven, from which descend torrents of graces and light! May the Lord Jesus give us a share in his divine Life in order that we might be, through Mary, true worshippers of the Father, in spirit and in truth!



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