Acts 2:14, 22b-28
Ps 16 R/. Lord, you will show me the path of life.
1 Peter 1:17-21
Christ and the Disciples in Emmaus, by a follower of Caravagio. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. This picture is a mirror image of a composition by Caravaggio (London National Gallery) dating from around 1600.
My brothers and sisters, as we continue to celebrate the holy Season of Easter, we continue to rejoice in God’s overwhelming love and mercy: a mercy that’s far greater than our weakness, far stronger than our sins; a love that’s much more powerful than even death itself.
What a gift! And it’s in this gift of salvation that we continue rejoice; this free and undeserved gift of God’s love and mercy given to us in the person of Christ Jesus, and made known to us in the Paschal Mystery.
But it’s only through the lens of the Resurrection that the Passion and Death of Jesus make any sense. As we heard in the Gospel, the disciples were sad and confused after Jesus died. My brothers and sisters, it isn’t until the disciples encounter the Risen Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. First Reading) that they understand how the wisdom and glory of God was manifested through the Cross. And this is the Gospel scene we encounter on the road to Emmaus.
The one whom the disciples believed was truly the Messiah, the King who was to rule them and redeem Israel had just died the death of a common criminal (cf. Lk 24:18-21). And now they were hearing stories that this Jesus had risen from the dead. They were sad and confused, and didn’t know what to make of it all.
Then along comes the risen Jesus — though they don’t recognise Him —, and He invites them to share and revisit the story of their journey with Him over the past three years.
And here’s where the Gospel passage really begins to take off! Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them the things about Himself in all the Scriptures (Lk 24:27). After listening to their story, Jesus helps them make sense of their experience. And then, while sharing a meal with them, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him! (Lk 24:30-31)
Let’s review this again: the disciples were walking together and Jesus came to them, and they recounted the events that happened on their journey of faith, then Jesus reviewed for them the Scriptures and helped them to understand what happened, and then revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread. Now, doesn’t this sound familiar? Where have we seen this before?
Do you see where I’m going with this? We’ve just uncovered the theology and structure of the Mass!
At each Mass, we gather together as disciples of Christ walking on our journeys of faith, to revisit and recount the story of our relationship with God, the story of God’s action in our lives. That’s why we always have the reading of Scripture, and we include in that both the Old and the New Testament, because as Jesus revealed to us on the road to Emmaus, Moses and the Prophets all point toward Him as the Son of God, our Messiah (cf. Lk 24:27).
Then, when the readings are done, the Priest or Deacon, who ministers to us in the person of Jesus Christ, interprets for us the things about Jesus in the Scriptures. And if Dcn. Ken and I do that well, then your hearts, like those of the disciples in the Gospel, should also be burning within you as we interpret the Word and confirm you in the Faith (cf. Lk 24:32).
Then, from the altar we relive the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, as the Priest unites himself to Christ in His sacrifice and takes bread, blesses and breaks it, giving it to you, where, through faith, you cry out with Thomas: My Lord and my God! (Jn 20:28).
The proclamation of Scripture and the Homily are meant to stir within our hearts and minds the flame of Faith we received at Baptism, so that we might come to recognise the Lord, who reveals Himself to us in the Breaking of the Bread, who gives Himself Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.
This is what we celebrate at every Mass! This is the heart of our Faith! And the Church gives us the obligation to attend Mass every Sunday because she knows that we need this as the bare minimum to sustain our faith; because she knows that we regularly need to be lifted up and set afire in the Faith, so as not to lose hope and be overcome by sadness like the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Christ is our Light! He is our Life! And if we are to live, we must do so in His light, in His life, and that’s what he transmits to us in the Eucharist, where our bodies receive His Body; where we’re conformed to His likeness, and strengthened in faith, hope and love, so that we too, like the disciples, may have our hearts burning within us and go out to proclaim the joy of the Risen Christ to all we meet (cf. Acts 2:14ff). Because we too, my brothers and sisters, are witnesses to the Resurrection! Each one of us is called to preach and testify that Jesus is the Lord, the Lamb of God who brings us salvation (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-21).
This is the joy and hope of our Faith, and we’re called to allow it to overflow into all areas of our lives, into everything we do, everything we say, everything we think. And because this isn’t always easy, we need God’s grace; we need Christ’s victory; we need the Eucharist. This is the gift He’s given us through this Easter Mystery, the gift we’re called to receive, the gift in which we rejoice. May we open our hearts to receive that gift each and every week! Amen.