May 4, 2014
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33
1 Peter 1:17-21
When someone we love dies, the custom in our family has always been a two day wake. This is a time when we gather to tell stories about the one who has died. We come to console and to be consoled. We remember the good times and we recall the hard times. For those few days, we slowly come to realize what we have lost and to admit that the place where that person once stood is now empty.
Like us, Jesus’ followers in today’s Gospel were telling stories on their way to Emmaus. Perhaps they too needed to speak of their own emptiness and their own pain. Their need was so great, that they did not know initially that it was Jesus to whom they were speaking.
Jesus' disciples had their own reasons for telling the story of what had happened to Jesus. So taken were they with Jesus--his healing, his miracles, his authority--that they needed to talk about him. What would it mean to them if this Jesus had indeed risen from the dead? Perhaps they wanted the stranger to tell them that they ought to believe the stories of Jesus' resurrection...and that is what the stranger did...and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
The Gospel story does not surprise us.
As the disciples walked the road toward Emmaus, they told their story with historical detachment. Maybe they even engaged in an argument with the Lord who chided them for their lack of faith. Then, when they shared a meal, the facts became more than historical information. In the intimacy of a meal, "their eyes were opened." Later, when they told the story of that meeting, they did not say they knew the Lord as they walked along the road. They announced that "they had come to know him in the breaking of the bread.’
We are reminded today of all we have in common. Like David, we have had the Lord before us. We rejoice because the Lord has shown us the path of life. We look around and recognize the faith of one another.
As we travel in the coming days we will meet other believers but perhaps we will never come to know about the faith we share with them. Perhaps, by some strange coincidence, we will see some of these seeming strangers at our parish celebration and know them in the breaking of the bread. Better yet, perhaps we will see those whose faith we recognized at liturgy and know them at another time because of the breaking of the bread.
We who believe are asked to share our faith with all humankind simply because we share space on this same small planet. No longer can we ignore their needs or fail to respond to the hungers in their eyes.
We move to the altar challenged to bring the Eucharist to the world.