3rd Sunday of Easter

3rd Sunday of Easter -A-14

Acts 2:14, 22-33, 1Peter. 1:17-21, Lk.24:13-35

Story: A Farmer went to the bank. He said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news to tell you. Which would you like to hear first?” “Why don’t you tell me the bad news first?” the banker replied. “Okay,” said the farmer, “With the bad drought and inflation and all, I won’t be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest.” “Well, that is pretty bad,” said the banker.

The farmer continued. “You remember I also borrowed to buy seed and fertilizer and other supplies. Well, I can’t pay anything on that, either principal or interest.” “That’s awful,” said the banker, “and that’s enough! What’s the good news?” “The good news,” replied the farmer with a smile “is that I intend to keep on doing business with you.”

I don’t know if that was good news for the banker or not. Two of the disciples of Jesus were on the road that leads to Emmaus. They were as low as that farmer because their Master had been crucified like a common thief. But now they have heard reports that their Master appeared to some of their most trusted friends. Was he really alive? The disciples were troubled and afraid. Should they believe the good news or the bad?

And that’s our dilemma, isn’t it? DO WE BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OR THE BAD? The good news is that Christ is alive. The bad news is how little impact that event is having in the world today. Our Scripture lessons for today have one common, encouraging theme: No matter what happens in our lives, the Risen Jesus is always with us.

God is always near to those who seek Him and who want to live in His presence doing His will. The Emmaus incident is the story of a God who will not leave us alone when we are hurt and disappointed. We all, each one of us, are walking on our individual journeys through life dealing with our questions either by ourselves or with others. Sometimes it is difficult to deal with our questions.

Sometimes our questions are difficult. Sometimes our difficulties cause us to question. Many times we ask: “Where is God in all of this?” Last Sunday’s Gospel account was about the disciples locked up in the Upper Room out of fear and then Jesus’ appeared among them. Today’s Gospel account is about two disciples dejectedly walking, journeying, from Jerusalem to a nearby hamlet called Emmaus and then Jesus appeared among them.

The first reading, taken from Acts, presents the beginning of Peter’s first public proclamation about Jesus and how God raised Jesus from death, thus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies about the promised descendant of David.  In the second reading, Peter exhorts the early Christians to place their faith and hope in God Who has saved them through the precious Blood of His Son and who has raised Jesus from the dead. The Emmaus incident described in today’s Gospel is the story of a God who will not leave us alone when we are hurt and disappointed.

The thing that is curious to me is that in today’s account the important point revolves around recognition of Jesus. Today we find this group of disciples at first failing to recognize Jesus and in the end they recognize Him. What happened? Why did they at first think He was a stranger and later come to realize who He really was?

Luke’s Gospel, written toward the end of the first century, was mainly meant for Christians who had not witnessed Christ in the flesh.  Luke tells us that we can meet and experience the Risen Lord through the reading and interpretation of Scripture and the “Breaking of the Bread” as the Lord’s Supper was known then. The story of the encounter on the Emmaus Road is presented in a liturgical fashion using liturgical language such as the commentary: “he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them”, “the Lord has risen indeed.”

Thus, the Risen Christ is revealed through the telling of the story, the interpretation of Scripture, and the Breaking of the Bread.  Jesus began revealing himself through the Scriptures and completed the revelation through the Eucharist.  This means that Christ still reveals himself to us through Word and Sacrament.

Luke’s Emmaus story teaches us that Jesus’ death and Resurrection fit God’s purpose as revealed in the Scriptures; the Risen Jesus is present in the Word of God and especially in the Breaking of the Bread; suffering is necessary for the Messiah “to enter into his glory;” and we have a Risen Savior, one Who personally walks with us in our daily paths, talks with us through His Word and with Whom we can talk through prayer.

He is the One who opens our minds to understand and respond to His Word.  He is with us and concerned about us.  He provides for us regardless of what life may bring, and he has given us the Holy Spirit so that we may teach others about Him.  Let us, therefore, with the perception of His presence, walk with Him, talk with Him, depend on Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him.

Jesus meets us on our Emmaus Road.  The risen Lord meets us on the road to our Emmaus in the ordinary experiences of our lives and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us.  We, too, have hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and family relationships.  These dreams often get shattered.  The Gospel promises us, however, that the Risen Lord will come to us in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us when we least expect him.  Emmaus moments come to us when we meet the Risen Christ on our life’s journey through rough times.

May we soon have some time to make our own Emmaus awareness. And may we come to recognize Him not only in the breaking of the bread but in all those other moments where God tries to break in on our time and walk with us as we face all of the stupendous events life hurls at us. For without His presence with us we certainly will feel depressed and defeated. Without His presence we will not be journeying to a destination, we will simply be wandering.

To a newly converted who had to find Jesus on his own the monk said, “”Christ is meant to be bread for daily use and not cake for parties. So, live today as though Christ died yesterday, arose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow.”  Amen.