(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, April 30, 2017)
Third Sunday of Easter
If we can believe anything at all in history, we can confidently believe that Jesus Christ was seen alive in the flesh by a large number of eyewitnesses. This happened at different times and in different places over a forty-day period. These are established facts, and have withstood attacks by many critics throughout the centuries.
Our first reading today is the word-for-word speech of Peter in the streets of Jerusalem to an astonished crowd of onlookers. At first, they think that the apostles must be drunk—then, after hearing the words of Peter, they are distressed and fearful, crying out for mercy at their culpable crime—crucifying the Lord of Life. Most amazingly of all, five thousand persons were baptized that same day, the day of Pentecost. What an amazing beginning for the Church!
Going back in time to the very day that Jesus rose from the tomb, the Gospel delights us with the amazing story of the Road to Emmaus. When you think of what actually happened, Jesus celebrates the Mass with the Liturgy of the Word. He then joins it with the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the Inn. Let's take a look.
These two disciples were getting out of Jerusalem, totally dejected, walking along with their heads down, gloomily talking about their broken hopes in Jesus, when a stranger joins them and asking them what their conversation was about. When they tell him the news, he professes ignorance and then points out how all of this was predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Fascinated, they invite the stranger to join them for supper at an Inn, since it is now nearly sundown. He agrees, and surprises them by taking the bread and wine into his hands and quietly says the same words He had uttered just a few days before: "This is my Body... This is my Blood...." They look at one another, and recognize Him in the breaking of the Bread! Then He disappears! No wonder they hasten back to Jerusalem, bursting into the Upper Room to tell their story! No wonder they cry out, "Were not our hearts burning within us as He explained the Scriptures to us on the way!"
What was the reaction of the Eleven? They greet their message with skepticism. It was only when Jesus Himself appeared to them that they finally believed. And it took even longer for Thomas. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit entered their whole being that they embraced not only the event itself, but also the suffering and the ridicule that living their convictions would bring. Through the grace of that Spirit, they grew in humility, prayer, reflection and holiness. This is the grace that I am asking our Heavenly Father to fill our heart with; especially for you, my dearest children on this very day when Jesus gives you His Body and His Blood.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could feel that same enthusiasm each time we hear the Word of God at Mass, and experience again and again the great miracle of Eucharist? The best part is that Jesus doesn't disappear afterwards.He remains on our altars and in our hearts as we become part of Him and, hopefully, hasten back home to tell our friends how great God is to die for us, to live for us and then, to share the Eucharist through our love and service, with some pain, but also with lots of joy
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor