3rd Sunday of Easter Homily – Fr. Rick Sherman
April 23, 2020
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Luke 24:13-35
In the first reading today Peter appears to be scolding his contemporary fellow Jews for not recognizing the Messiah and how His appearance should have been more apparent to them. He references specific aspects of their well-documented history, especially in the person of their great King, David. Peter is drawing on his own witness to the resurrected Christ as well as what was prophesied and predicted for a thousand years in order to help the Jews understand their place in the big story. He even reminds them that they are Israelites in order to draw in the fullness of their history and tradition.
In Peter’s proclamation he intimates that the Jews are or SHOULD BE very familiar with the promises of salvation revealed in their sacred Scriptures. The first Christians saw themselves as a new people, but a people with this same long history and deep roots. They had no real idea of how long this new people following the new Way would have to persevere before the final triumph of Christ would come on the earth.
Tragically, as we now know, most the Jews did not recognize or accept Christ as the Messiah. The new Church would ultimately flourish amongst the Gentiles (the non-Jews of the many nations to which the disciples would be sent), most of whom would know very little about the Israelites by whom Jesus came into the world. So the Christians, the new people of the Way, would be charged with proclaiming and explaining their personal encounters with Christ, their experience of the Holy Spirit and eventually the history of the Israelites. All three would be necessary to keep the movement focused and grounded in reality for however long it takes for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Today’s gospel reveals this process of revelation unfolding with the disciples returning from Jerusalem to their home at Emmaus. They finally recognize the true identity of Jesus after he walks alongside them, explains the Scriptures and then during the breaking of the bread. It’s important to notice that the disciples urged Jesus to stay with them. At their invitation Jesus revealed Himself through the breaking of the bread.
As modern Catholics we have the same mission and same revelations as the first disciples and their Israelite ancestors. We likewise need to know our history, be open to the personal presence of Christ in our lives (especially in the Eucharist), receive the Holy Spirit, and then to share that witness with others. We will need all of the above all of the time to effectively share the Good News in our modern lives.
Homework for the week: Think about the various people you have met along the path of your life who have helped you to recognize the Christ in your midst. Thank them and thank God.
ALSO, look for upcoming opportunity to explore the Scriptures ‘burning in our hearts’.