May 4, 2014
Third Sunday of Easter
The disciples walking on the way to Emmaus in the late afternoon of Easter
Sunday did not realize that they were speaking in person with Jesus. The fact
that his appearance was different to them is clear; after all, they would hardly
fail to recognize such a personal friend and guide, yet their delayed
recognition goes beyond visual images and embraces a broader human tendency to
fail to see the things that ought to be the clearest to us. They finally
recognize him when he takes bread and breaks it to share with them, representing
the Eucharist which he had previously shared with his apostles on the evening of
Holy Thursday, immediately preceding his passion and death.
Luke 24: 13-35
The breaking of the Eucharistic bread is what connects the disciples' experience
of Jesus after the resurrection to what they knew of him before his death-it is
the source and the focus of their faith in this defining event of Jesus' life,
revolving around the resurrection as the hinge of their belief. As such, the
Eucharist and the resurrection are inseparable, each one giving meaning to and
confirming the other in a beautiful exchange of grace.
In the first reading for mass this day, from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter
urges the crowds to believe in Jesus, now risen to new life, noting how God has
exalted Jesus far above David through the power of the resurrection. Peter
understands that his almost entirely Jewish audience gathered in Jerusalem for
the feast of Pentecost will esteem David and his place in their religious piety.
He appeals to Isaiah, Joel, and the Psalms in order to exhort them to believe
that God had raised Jesus from the dead, and thus exalted him as the true
Messiah and superior of David-who remained in his tomb.
During the Eucharistic Prayer the entire assembly at mass rejoices in singing
the memorial acclamation: "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we
proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory", thus affirming our
faith in the bond between the resurrection and the Eucharist and acclaiming
Jesus as the true Son of David.
The second reading from the First Letter of Peter goes beyond initial belief in
the resurrection and describes the way in which Christians ought to respond to
the resurrection in terms of their way of life. "You were ransomed... with the
precious blood of Christ" we are reminded, and we therefore have a
responsibility to live in a manner worthy of the one who redeemed us at so great
a cost. When we partake of the broken bread at mass we must live from that
moment on in imitation of the selfless love of Jesus so that we may also share
in his resurrection when he comes again in glory.
Finally the gospel account of Jesus accompanying the disciples on their way to
Emmaus confronts us with the resurrection in terms of recognizing the Risen One
in the breaking of the bread in our midst, reminding us that we do not always
see what is obvious. When we gather this third Sunday of Easter to celebrate
together the Eucharist of the Lord, we should remember that through this
sacramental action of the Christian community Christ becomes present in our
midst and "stays with us". If we trust in God who raised Jesus from the dead,
and live as though we truly believe what we profess in the creed, we will need
no longer ask each other "Were not our hearts burning within us?", but will be
able to proclaim, "The Lord has truly been raised...and has been made known to
us in the breaking of the bread".
Fr. Edward Mazich, O.S.B.