3RD. EASTER A
In today's 1st. Reading, which is taken from Ch. 2 of Acts of the Apostles, we have a part of St. Peter's 1st. missionary address. The previous 13 verses described the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. To their utter amazement, the crowd could understand the preaching of the Apostles in their own particular language.
St. Peter interprets the event for his listeners. He tells them that the speech of the Disciples is not derived from drunkenness but from the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Peter retells the story of Jesus of Nazareth – a man commended by God with mighty deeds and wonders. He contrasts the activity of the people with God's activity. The Jewish leaders crucified Jesus of Nazareth but God raised him up from the dead according to his "set plan and fore knowledge".
The New Testament constantly reminds us that Christ died in obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father. It constantly reminds us that it was the Father’s plan from the beginning that Christ should die for our sins & be raised from the dead. St. Peter describes himself and the other Apostles as witnesses of Christ's Resurrection. (1:22, 3:15).
St. Peter then backs up his teaching by quoting Psalm 16. Psalm 16 describes God as saving his chosen one from corruption & the nether world. Peter's listeners knew that King David was dead & his grave was still among them. (2:29). Therefore, the Psalm must apply to David's successor — the Messiah, whom St. Peter claims is Jesus of Nazareth.
God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead & seated Him at his right hand. This Jesus, who has been raised from the dead, now sits exalted at the right hand of the Father. The Glorified Christ, enthroned at God's right hand, is the One who bestows the Holy Spirit The Apostles' ability to speak in the various languages of their listeners is the result of the Holy Spirit working within them.
Like myself, I'm sure you find St. Peter's way of arguing rather convoluted. With their deep knowledge of the Old Testament, St. Peter's address obviously made sense to listeners. In simple terms, what St Peter is saying is that God raised up Jesus of Nazareth glorious & immortal from the dead. The Apostles are witnesses to Christ's Resurrection.
The Glorified Lord, now seated at the right hand of the Father, is the One who bestows the Holy Spirit. Enthroned at the right hand of the Father, he continues to offer Himself to the Father on our behalf. In the words of the 3rd. Preface of Easter:
He is still our Priest
Our Advocate, who pleads our cause
Christ is the Victim, who dies no more
The Lamb once slain, who lives forever.
The 2nd. Reading -- 1Pet.1:17-21
In the 2nd, Reading, St. Peter tells his readers that God will judge them according to their deeds. Since they will all be judged according to their deeds, St. Peter exhorts them to live a life style worthy of their status as children of God. Since we too will all be judged according to our deeds, let us lead such a life style that when we appear before God He will say to us:
"Come you, whom my Father has blessed & take for your inheritance the Kingdom of God prepared for you since the foundation of the world". (Mt. 25:34).
Page BreakTHE ROAD TO EMMAUS (Lk. 24:13-35)
In this morning's Gospel, we have St. Luke, the story-teller, at his best. It is one of the more beautiful stories in the Gospels. The story begins with two disciples, one of whom was named Cleopas. (Lk.24:18). We know nothing about Cleopas, not to mention his companion. They are on their way from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus, which is about 7 miles from Jerusalem (24:13).
As they walk along, they are discussing the events which took place in Jerusalem, during the previous few days. They are rather depressed because their dreams and hopes regarding Jesus of Nazareth have been shattered. They are rather downcast because Jesus of Nazareth, instead of freeing them from Roman tyranny, ends up crucified on a cross. As they will say later on in the story: "We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel".
V. 15 -- During their discussions, a third person draws near and walks along with them. St. Luke tells his readers that this third person is the Risen Lord, although the 2 Disciples do not recognize him.
V. 17 -- The Risen Lord inquires about their topic of conversation. He allows the 2 Disciples to tell him about the events of his own Passion & Death. They also tell him about the women who went to the tomb, found it empty, and came back saying that He was alive. From their tone of voice, it is obvious that these events had little or no meaning for the 2 Disciples. (Lk 24:32).
Disappointed at their lack of faith, Christ appeals to the Scriptures to correct their false notion of the Messiah. In v. 26 Christ says:
“Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things & thus enter into His glory?”
At the time of Christ, all of Israel, including the 2 disciples, were expecting a Political Messiah. They were expecting a Messiah who would free them from Roman tyranny.
As the 2 discouraged disciples, said in v. 21:
V. 21 -- "We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel". In his account of the Ascension, St. Luke’s tells us that the Apostles are still looking for a Political Messiah. In Acts 1:6 they ask Jesus: Are you, at this time, going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?”. The disciples lack of understanding of who Jesus of Nazareth is & the mission given to Him by His Heavenly Father is amazing.
V. 27 -- Beginning with Moses, the Risen Lord interprets the Scriptures showing them that the Promised Messiah was meant to be Suffering Messiah. He tells them that He Himself is the Suffering Messiah, who fulfills Old Testament promises and expectations. Luke is the only New Testament writer, who speaks explicitly of a Suffering Messiah. (26:46, Acts 3:18, 17:3, 26:23)
V. 28 -- As they neared the village, Jesus acted as if he were going further. The two disciples invite him into their home. Jesus accepts their invitation and goes in to stay with them.
V. 29 --The time of day is important. It was at sundown. It was at sundown that the Early Christians gathered for their assembly and the breaking of bread. By giving us the exact time of day, St. Luke is giving what follows a Eucharistic interpretation.
V. 30 -- In the home of the disciples, although He is the Guest, Jesus assumes the role of the host. He takes bread, blesses, breaks it and gives it to them. Jesus' action calls to mind his action at the Last Supper where he also took, blessed, broke & gave.
V. 31 -- With the breaking of Bread, the eyes of the 2 Disciples are finally opened and they recognize the Risen Lord. V. 32 -- Even though the disciples' hearts were filled with joy, when he had earlier explained the Scriptures to them, they recognize him only at the breaking of bread. At that instant, the Risen Lord vanished from their sight.
The phrase "breaking of bread" is one of the oldest terms used to describe the celebration of the Eucharist. In the Acts of The Apostles, St. Luke describes how the Early Christians gathered together to listen to the teaching of the Apostles & for "the breaking of bread".(Acts 2:42-46).
V. 33 -- Wishing to share their new faith with the other Disciples, they return to Jerusalem. The Christian message is never fully ours until we share it with someone else. V. 34 -- On arriving back in Jerusalem, they are greeted with the joyful news: "The Lord has risen and appeared to Simon".
Two Moments Are Remembered
When the 2 disciples recount their experience of the Risen Lord to the Eleven and the rest of the community, 2 moments are remembered:
(a). V. 32-- They remembered how their hearts were filled with joy, as the Risen Lord explained the Scriptures to them. In a short period of time, they have gone from "we were hoping" (v. 21) to having “hearts filled with joy”. They have obviously accepted the Risen Jesus as their Lord & Saviour
(b). They also remembered how they recognized the Risen Lord in the breaking of Bread.
They have moved from -- not being able to recognize Jesus (v. 10)
-- to recognizing Him in "the breaking of Bread”.
All of this happened to them because they showed hospitality. Because of their hospitality, their sadness & disappointment is transformed into joy & a recommitment to the Risen Lord Scripture scholars tell us that Christ's appearance to the 2 disciples is probably historical.
There were many wandering preachers in the Early Church. St. Luke takes the story of two of them, develops it and gives it a Eucharistic interpretation.
There is a lot of food for reflection in this Gospel story. I recommend that, sometime during the week, you take out your Bible and prayerfully reflect on it.
(2). Where Do We Meet The Risen Lord?
In this passage, St. Luke is also telling us where we meet the Risen Lord.
V. 32 -- We meet the Risen Lord in the Scriptures and in the "breaking of Bread". What St. Luke is telling us is that we meet the Risen Lord, at our Eucharistic gatherings, where the Scriptures are read and the Bread is broken.
The Liturgy of the word, describes the life & ministry of the Risen Lord.
During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we receive the Body & Blood of the Glorified Lord as our spiritual food and nourishment.
(3). An Exhortation To Hospitality
The Emmaus story is also an exhortation to hospitality. It was only after they showed hospitality to a stranger that the eyes of the 2 disciples were opened,.
If the two disciples had not invited Jesus into their home, they would never had recognized him as the Risen Lord.
Hospitality is merely another name for "love".