May 8, 2011 – Third Sunday of Easter
Don’t you ever wish, at least occasionally, that tape recorders had been invented a few centuries ago? You could then hear some interesting and important historical conversations replayed whenever you wished. And of all the fascinating discussions you might want to listen to, the one mentioned in today’s Gospel from Luke 24 might head the list. It would certainly be the most meaningful. It would even be worth learning Aramaic, the language used for ordinary speech by Jesus, in order to understand what was said.
The narrative is a familiar one. The Sabbath was over, and two of Jesus’ disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a nearby village. Jesus joins them, but they did not recognize him. It’s clear they didn’t expect to ever see him again. In fact, they explained their dejection by telling how they had thought Jesus was the Messiah, only to have their hopes dashed by his crucifixion. To make matters worse, his body had disappeared from the tomb, and some women had reported that angels had told them that he was alive again. They didn’t know how to make any sense of all this.That is when the conversation we’d love to hear took place. Jesus asked them whether it wasn’t necessary for the Messiah to suffer before he was glorified. At this point comes the amazing one-sentence summary: “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” How wonderful it would be to have heard that instruction! If one could get to only one Bible study in one’s life, that would be the one.
But even hearing Jesus interpreting the Old Testament passages about himself did not enable Cleopas and his fellow disciple recognize Jesus. It was only when they had arrived at their destination and Jesus broke the bread that they recognized him. Although he then disappeared, they were so thrilled they returned to Jerusalem to share the good news that he was indeed alive.
St. Peter in the homily recorded in the reading from Acts 2 spoke about the experiences he and the other apostles had when they met with the risen Jesus. “God raised this Jesus,” Peter proclaimed. “Of this we are all witnesses.” They knew he is alive because they had spent time with him.
Since Christ’s Ascension, we may not see him in the same way that Peter and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus did. But like Cleopas and his fellow, we can meet him and recognize him in the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist. It is there that we encounter him, after we have heard his revelation in Scripture read and preached.
It is an expression of his love that God comes to meet us, in his message in the Bible and in his presence in the Mass. He takes the initiative. We have only to be there, both physically and spiritually. And that’s where one facet of our stewardship comes into play, our stewardship of Time.
As with anyone we want to see or become friends with, it takes a commitment of time to be available. Isn’t it a worthwhile investment of our time to have contact with God? Beginning with an hour or so for Sunday Mass, and we can then add, as we are able, some weekday celebrations, then maybe devotional Bible reading, or the Rosary, or Adoration.
All that time is well spent, for we, like the Emmaus disciples, will be able to share how Jesus has been made known to us “in the breaking of bread.”