Sermon 293: 3rd. Sunday of Easter (A)
(Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-23; 1st. Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35)
As the two disciples walked towards Emmaus they discussed Jesus and the events of His life and death so recently experienced in Jerusalem and now so sorrowfully remembered. Reminiscences though, no matter how loving, are not faith … how many lapsed Catholics fool themselves by pretending that reminiscences of that sort show that though they no longer go Church on Sundays, though they no longer receive Jesus in His sacraments, though they do not always obey all (!) His commands, nevertheless they still have true faith in their hearts! They could well say with the two on the way to Emmaus in the Gospel story, not using indeed the same words:
We had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel;
but expressing the same general appreciation of Jesus from their life in the Church: ‘We had once hoped to experience something of the presence of Jesus, we had hoped to find joy and inspiration in our practice of the Faith but …
How did Jesus bring back those regretful men bound for Emmaus? How does He seek to draw back our modern-day lapsed Catholics?? How does He lead His faithful to what is better today???
He opened the meaning of the Scriptures to those ‘Emmaus-bound disciples’ and they felt their hearts begin to warm within them, ‘burn within them’ indeed. Their faith was being rekindled! Nevertheless, Jesus would have gone on further, alone, and they would not have recognized Him at all, had they not noted and appreciated the gracious gift they had been given.
This Man had found them ‘looking sad’ and now as He was on the point of leaving them their hearts within them felt strangely uplifted. They recognized that as a gift given to them and they felt they should acknowledge it; in fact, they positively wanted and willed to show Him their gratitude, so:
They urged Him, ‘Stay with us, it is nearly evening and the day is almost over’.
Dear People of God, perhaps few of our modern-day lapsed Catholics will ever turn to the Scriptures searching for God, but nevertheless, they and we should always remember that that is where Jesus can certainly be found to guide and heal any who choose to seek Him there; again, how many of our lapsed brethren are able, spiritually sensitive enough, ready and willing, to experience and appreciate God’s blessings in their lives as true blessings for which they must give thanks!
Notice, dear People of God, that Jesus kindled their faith through an appropriate understanding of the Scriptures, and that is precisely what He is trying to do with and for each one of us who today hear Mother Church’s chosen readings and sometimes homily during the sacrifice of Holy Mass. Jesus is targeting you whether you have heard those readings until you are ‘sick’ of hearing them, or whether you like the priest or not, whether you think his words are convincing, his person acceptable enough, or not …. Despite all that may be going on in your mind and heart, Jesus is targeting you at this time!!
However, it was in the sacrament itself that the disciples actually recognized, found, Jesus their Lord and Saviour. People of God, we must approach the sacrament – the Eucharist – as indeed all the sacraments of course, with a faith and love prepared to be manifested in obedience to God’s commands if we wish to recognize Christ truly and embrace Him sincerely.
There are other considerations that could be taken up from our readings today, for example, turn over in your minds the fact that Jesus accompanies us – as He did those two going to Emmaus – if we walk our way of life thinking on, communing with, Him whenever we find ourselves free to share a moment or two with Him. And, of course, He guides us as we read, study, turn to, the Scriptures… but make sure that you do not start anything so formal and deliberate ‘expecting, demanding’ to hear, feel, something from Him! Just do it like the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46-48) who heard that Jesus was passing by and simply put himself in Jesus’ way by crying out:
Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!
Many ‘Catholics’ today are too embarrassed, afraid to ‘draw attention to themselves as being Catholic. Bartimaeus, however, had no such fears about what people might think of him, indeed, about what people – even disciples – might say to him! It was supremely important for him to draw Jesus’ attention! Jesus can most surely be found, be it in the Scriptures or be it in life, by anyone who can imitate that blind beggar.
And finally, Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist! The priest says before communion, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’ But Jesus will have none of that! He doesn’t simply want to simply heal, He wants to incite love in us by offering us His own supreme and most Personal love. ‘Say only the word’? Not enough!! I want love from you! Yes, love for Me, and, with Me and in Me, love for My Father and for your Father!
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