3rd Sunday of Easter - homily
When was the last time that you made a retreat? Maybe it was a one day or weekend or even a week-long retreat. Retreats are great opportunities for us to get away from our daily responsibilities, busyness, and all of the noise of our lives to spend time with God. They give us the chance to listen to God so that He can shed light on our lives. I have been on retreats where the entire focus was on the Gospel story we just heard – the disciples on the road to Emmaus. These disciples represent us because they are common disciples of Jesus who are trying to make sense of his life. Here are a few thoughts for us to ponder, almost as if we were on retreat.
The first point is that the disciples are on a journey. Each one of us is on a journey, a journey of faith. Like the disciples, we reflect on the life of Christ and see how it applies to our lives. Now, the disciples were at a loss in looking at the brutal Passion and Death of Jesus as well as considering his Resurrection; they were ignorant of Scripture. St. Jerome once said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. The disciples didn’t know Christ. They didn’t know the Old Testament prophecies about Christ, so they couldn’t recognize that Jesus was the Christ when they saw the events unfold in his life.
The second point is that Jesus walks with them on the journey. He is walking with each one of us, too. He walks and talks with them; they don’t recognize him. He opens the Scriptures to them to point out all of the Old Testament prophecies that refer to him. They would say later – after recognizing him – that their hearts were burning when he spoke to them on the path and taught them the Scriptures.
Whenever we have had experiences of the presence of God in our lives, we have had this experience, too – our hearts have burned. Our hearts burn and yearn for Christ; He made them that way! Whenever He makes his presence known in our lives – whether it’s through Scripture, through prayer, through other people, or through our experiences - our hearts burn. Our hearts rejoice. They are on fire!
Another point is that the disciples finally recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. This is one of the first Masses celebrated; there is the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. How many of us have had the experience of coming to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist?! After going through years of Catholic school and being raised in a Catholic home, many of us still don’t recognize him until we encounter him in the Eucharist like the disciples did. As St. Peter says in the second reading, this is what has been handed down from our ancestors – not silver or gold, but the “precious blood of Christ”.
Finally, let us be like the disciples and go out “at once” and proclaim the risen Christ! Let us go forth from here and proclaim – mainly with the way we live but, occasionally with the way we speak – what we have experienced here. Let us proclaim that we have seen Him, that He is alive, and that our hearts burn for Him and His love.