3rd Sunday of Easter – April 23, 2023

 

3rd Sunday of Easter – April 23, 2023

Acts 2: 14, 22-23; 1Peter 1: 17-21; Luke 24: 13-35

 

Theme: The Risen Lord is the Motivation of our Christian Faith

 

Many Christians come to Church, follow Jesus, or pray to God because of someone or something that motivates them to do so. For some Christians, their motivations are their loved ones (spouse, parents, children, etc.). For others, their motivations could be the ministry that they do in the Church (Parish Council, Finance Council, etc.). In case of a loss of that specific person or ministry, consciously or unconsciously, they leave the Church or stop praying. I personally went through this crisis. In March 2021, I lost my lovely mom. It was difficult for me to accept her death. She was the one who was motivating me, praying for me, and sustaining me in my life as a priest. Her death made me go through a crisis of losing my enthusiasm for being a priest. During my grieving period, which lasted about a year, I struggled to regain spiritual and pastoral strength to continue to serve God as a priest. I recovered thanks to the help of the spiritual direction that I sought. Our Gospel of today tells us the story of two disciples of Emmaus who did the same experience. They lost completely the motivation that kept them following Jesus. As a result, they decided to abandon their discipleship and return to their former lives in Emmaus. Jesus appears to them in their moment of crisis and provides them with spiritual direction using two methods: the sharing of the Scripture and the breaking of the bread to resurrect their spiritual motivation.   

These two disciples lived in Jerusalem because they were Jesus’ followers. Their motivation in following Jesus was maybe the expectation to get good jobs when the Messiah overturns the power of the Romans. At this point, the Messiah died. They have no more hope and no more motivation. The evangelist Luke says that they left Jerusalem and were going back to their village, Emmaus. Many Christians are disappointed in different things and as result, they are leaving “Jerusalem”, which is their Church or spiritual lives, and going back to “Emmaus” which represents their former lives. When we go through this crisis, let us use the spiritual guidance that Jesus used for these two disciples.

Jesus initiated the conversation with a question: “What are you discussing as you walk along?” Although Jesus knew their minds, still he asks a question to give them the opportunity to speak out. In the spiritual or psychological direction, sharing our problems is very important. It is the beginning of the healing process. When we experience a moment of crisis, let us share our problems with someone we trust and seek a solution or healing. These two disciples spoke out about their frustration and disappointment caused by the death of Jesus. They first described who Jesus was, “a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” (v. 19b). Second, they explained briefly how he died, “our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.” (v. 20). Third, they expressed their disappointment, “But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” (v. 21a). Fourth, they mentioned some indices indicating that Jesus was alive (in which they themselves did not believe) such as the testimony of some women of their group regarding the empty tomb, the vision of angels who announced that Jesus was alive, and some of the disciples who went to the tomb and found things as the women described but did not see Jesus. (vv. 22-24). Lack of faith, hope, anxiety, worries, and disappointment prevented these two disciples and continues to prevent us today from recognizing the presence of the Risen Lord in our midst. Amid this crisis, Jesus intervenes and provides them with spiritual accompaniment using two methods: the Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist (vv. 25-31).

First, Jesus continues to reveal himself to us through the Scripture as he did with these two disciples of Emmaus. The interpretation of Scripture helped Cleopas and his companion to see the cross of Jesus, not as a total disaster, but as a victory. Second, Jesus continues to reveal himself to us in the breaking of Bread, the Holy Communion. The Evangelist Luke says that the eyes of these two disciples were opened, and they recognized Jesus at the table of dinner (vv. 30-31). The two methods that Jesus used, the interpretation of the Scripture and the breaking of the bread are found in the liturgy of the Eucharist that we celebrate. In the first part of the Mass, we celebrate the liturgy of the Word. Here we listen to God who speaks to us through the Scripture, and we listen to their interpretation in the Homily of a priest or deacon. The second part of the Mass is the liturgy of the Eucharist. Jesus, through the priest, consecrates the bread and wine to become his Body and Blood. Notice the four words that Jesus used in our Gospel’s story which are the same words that he uses at every Mass: “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them” (v. 30). At the liturgy of the Eucharist (Mass), we have the same experience as Cleopas and his companion.

When these two disciples arrived in Emmaus, they invited Jesus to stay with them for supper. Basically, it was Jesus who first invited them spiritually through the interpretation of the scripture. By requesting Jesus to stay with them, they just responded positively to the divine invitation. They express the need to stay with Jesus. But Jesus vanished from their sight after the super. This means that Jesus inaugurated the time of the Church and Sacraments. After his resurrection, we, his followers, find his real presence in the Church and Sacraments.

These two disciples decided to return to Jerusalem. When they left Jerusalem, it meant that they abandoned their faith, and they were heading toward damnation. Now that they encounter Jesus through the Scripture and the sacrament of the Eucharist, which provokes in them a total conversion, they decide to make a U-tern and come back to Jerusalem, the place of their salvation.

So, our Gospel invites us to reflect and see if the loss of our loved ones or any other disappointing moments cause us to leave our “Jerusalem” and go back to “Emmaus”. We need to know that Jesus always encounters us in our difficult moments and wants us to start a conversation with him. Then, he opens our eyes and reveals himself to us through the Word of God that we read at home, at Bible Study, and especially at Mass, and through the Holy Communion that we share at the altar of the Mass. The Risen Lord is the motivation of our Christian Faith. He is alive. Let us follow him with hope and courage. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

2nd Sunday of Lent Year B – Feb. 25, 2024

  2nd Sunday of Lent Year B – Feb. 25, 2024 Genesis 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Romans 8: 31b-34; Mark 9: 2-10   Theme: The Lenten Seas...