Sunday Sermon for April 26, 2020, the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-23; 1 Pt 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35
It is wonderful to hear in today’s Gospel reading about our Lord opening the Scriptures for the two disciples on the way to Emmaus and then revealing Himself to these men in the Breaking of the Bread. However, before our Lord did these things for His disciples, there are a couple things we have to consider. The first questions is: why did these men leave Jerusalem? They explain to Jesus their understanding of Who Jesus is and the hopes they had in Him. Then they tell about the fact that the women had gone to the tomb and found it empty; this was corroborated by some of the Apostles who had gone to the tomb.
What this highlights is the complete lack of understanding of the resurrection, which only makes sense, since no one had ever been resurrected previously. The Apostles had heard our Lord speak of His resurrection on a few occasions, but they did not grasp what He was talking about. Regardless of this, one still has to wonder why these men would have left Jerusalem after having received the information of our Lord’s disappearance from the tomb. There are two things possible. First, their business in Emmaus was quite urgent, but that does not seem to be the issue since they forgot about their reason for going their as soon as Jesus had revealed Himself to them.
The other possibility is that they had completely lost faith in Jesus. This seems to be the issue since their discussion with our Lord exposes the fact that they had accepted the death of Jesus as being final and, consequently, any hope they had in Him had been dissolved. The death of our Lord was still fresh in their minds, as is evidenced by the conversation and debate they were engaged in with one another before Jesus joined them. This discussion, however, must not have been about Jesus being the Christ because our Lord had to challenge them on being slow to believe.
Jesus then proceeds to recite all the Scripture passages that referred to Him. Even with all this explanation, especially regarding the passages that speak of the sufferings the Messiah had to undergo before entering into His glory, they still did not understand. Perhaps it was just the inability to grasp the concept of the resurrection that still confounded them, but it seems to be more than this. Knowing human nature, it was probably more a matter that they had a preconceived idea of who and what the Messiah was supposed to be or what He was supposed to do. What the Scriptures contain did not square with their ideas, so Scripture was ignored in favor of their own predetermined conclusions.
For those of us who believe in our Lord’s resurrection and believe that He is the Messiah, we may think these considerations do not apply to us. However, being human it is easy to fall into the same traps. We may have our own ideas about how God is supposed to work in our lives or in the world. Maybe we are so engrossed in the things of the world that faith in Jesus is secondary to us. It is not that we do not believe, but it is that business, money, or some other good is considered more important.
This is why St. Peter, in the second reading, tells us to conduct ourselves with reverence during this time of sojourning. It is important for us to stop and assess our priorities. Are we truly living for God in this world? Do we, as St. Peter recommends, have our faith and hope in God? The two men on the way to Emmaus were hoping Jesus was the One to redeem Israel. They had now lost hope in Him. In a world like ours, it is easy to shift our hope to something other than Jesus. It is also very easy to profess faith without living it very well. This is why St. Peter is telling us that our profession of faith and our actions must align.
In the second reading St. Peter reminds us that we are redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus and in the first reading he quotes King David to point out to the people that God had foretold the resurrection a thousand years before it happened. This is the foundation of our faith. These are not just objective events that happened 2000 years ago; they affect each of us personally today. They define who we are and, therefore, how we are to live our lives. If we do not understand, we need to make the effort to learn; if our faith has diminished, we need to work to augment it. We are members of Jesus Christ; our faith and hope are in God!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.