Peter proceeded to speak and said: "You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."(P) The word of the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, "His mercy endures forever." (R)
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power; the right hand of the Lord is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (R)
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R)
Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on Earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.(P) The word of the Lord.
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see. And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So, he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" So, they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
There is a saying that goes: "A gossiper is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself."
Jesus was a great conversationalist. In the gospels, there are numerous examples of Jesus asking people questions and engaging in deep conversations with them about their lives. Today's gospel text is one such example which took place on the third day after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. According to Luke, it so happened that two disciples, greatly confused and deeply saddened by Jesus' suffering, crucifixion and death, had left Jerusalem and were walking toward a village called Emmaus. They were probably returning home. I wonder if they had ever expected to go back to their homes. They had already left everything to follow Jesus.
After all, they had hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel, Luke (24:21). Yet, as they walked along they were talking to each other about the events of the previous days, that is, the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem and the joyful welcome by the residents of the city; His last Passover meal with them; His arrest in the garden; His trials before Pilate and Herod; His torture, crucifixion, death, burial and the rumours about His resurrection.
While they were talking of these matters, a third person, a stranger, joined them. He asked the two disciples what they were discussing, so that he might join in their conversation. At first, the disciples expressed their astonishment at the stranger not having heard of all that had transpired in Jerusalem recently, and then proceeded to tell him that they were speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, a great prophet, who had been crucified. Then, they told the stranger of the women's story about the empty tomb. At this, the stranger rebuked them for their unbelief, and then went on to show them from the whole Old Testament, beginning with Moses, and all the Prophets, what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
That is, the stranger spoke of Christ who would have to suffer and die for people's sin before God raised him to life. And as he talked to them, their hearts grew lighter, and when they reached Emmaus, the two disciples invited the stranger to stay and share a meal with them. During the meal, as Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, suddenly perhaps remembering the words Jesus had said before, the disciples recognized their companion as Jesus, but He immediately disappeared from their sight. Astonished, they said to each other that their hearts were "burning" during their conversation with Jesus, and they hurried back to Jerusalem to report that they had seen the Lord.
As they started their journey they were trapped in fear, confusion, disappointment and grief. They were without hope. They could neither recognize Jesus nor could understand what the Scriptures have said about Jesus. But Jesus' conversation and interpretation of the Scriptures prepared them to recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread and return to their friends with hope and joy and give witness to Jesus' resurrection.
What is the message for us?
Jesus always walks with us in ways both familiar to us, and in ways that remain a mystery. Especially in life's difficult moments, when we experience a demoralizing loss of hope, when we no longer construe our future to be meaningful, when we succumb to the thought that there is no one in whom we can place our hopes, when we abandon ourselves to despair, when we are sad, Jesus is near us and walks beside us to give us courage, strength, and hope along the way. As we walk together, He listens. He communes with us as a Friend and Saviour. He reveals what we cannot see in the natural. He gradually also reveals to us the depth of His relationship. So, we can open our hearts to Him, and we can be very honest with Him. It's alright to unload all our feelings and tell Him all our struggles, disappointments, worries, anger, doubts, fears, guilt, health problems, needs and hopes. He rejoices each time we open our hearts.
The more we open our hearts the more He will reveal Himself. Even when we choose to walk away from Him and close the door, He never gives up on us; He does not retire upon himself; He remains open; He continues to communicate with us. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will have supper with him, and he with me.", Rev. (3:20). Yes indeed, when we allow Jesus to walk with us, everything will change.
As we walk with Him, let us keep our minds and hearts fixed on Him and His Word. Just as the apostles were seeking the meaning of all that had happened in their lives through the Scriptures, so too may we seek God's will for our life through the Scriptures, in times of sadness, disappointment, grief, pain and suffering plus ask God for peace, His promised peace "that surpasses all understanding", Philippians (4:7). Let us converse with Jesus who honours us with His presence. Let us read the divine Scriptures frequently to enjoy His intimate friendship. Let us invite Him to walk with us, come into our hearts and families, so that He may abide in and with us at all times.
I wish you and your family a Blessed and Joyful Easter!(P) Amen.
God Bless You!