We are in the third Sunday of Easter. In the readings, particularly in the Gospel reading, we have an encouraging theme that no matter what happens in our lives, the risen Lord is always with us. The Emmaus incident is the story of a God who will not leave us alone when we are hurt or disappointed. The Emmaus journey was a great privilege for the two disciples to meet Jesus, walk with him, listen to Him explaining the Scriptures to them, and to share the Eucharist with Him. Yes, it certainly was a great privilege. Wouldn’t you love to have been with those two disciples, part of this experience on the road to Emmaus? But, in fact, every time we celebrate the Eucharist here in our church with our faith community we meet Jesus in the same way. Jesus explained the Scriptures to the two disciples: “He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” and we also listen to the Scriptures.
The readings today invite us to walk with our risen Lord through the Eucharist and the Bible. The first reading is taken from the beginning of Peter’s first public proclamation about Jesus and how God raised Jesus from death, thus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies about the promised descendant of David. During his speech, Peter refers to Israel’s beloved King David, quoting Psalm 16, and asserts that David “foresaw and spoke of the Resurrection of the Christ.” The reading tries to describe a time before the earliest Christians realized that God was calling them to embrace all people. At this stage, they believed that they were the only Jews to have recognized the Messianic identity of Jesus, and their goal was only to convince other Jews of what they had seen and experienced.
In today’s second reading, Peter exhorts the early Christians to place their Faith and Hope in God Who has saved them through the precious Blood of His Son and Who has raised Jesus from the dead. Peter repeats the assertion made in Acts that Jesus’ death and Resurrection was part of God’s plan from all eternity. Hence, Jesus’ sufferings and subsequent glorification by God should serve to center the Christian’s Faith and Hope in God Who has accepted those sufferings as an act of Redemption for all humankind. From this reassuring truth, Christians should sense God’s providence in their own situations and the whole of their lives, and should understand the place of their present struggles in a broader perspective. The foundation of our faith must be the Resurrection of Jesus, and Peter contends that it is essential for everyone in the Christian community to have the experience of the risen Jesus in his or her life.
The Gospel is a beautiful, theological dramatization of a collection of the encounters of the disciples with their risen Lord during those wonder-filled days after the discovery of the empty tomb. It tells the story of two disciples of Jesus, discouraged and devastated, who set out on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus and were met by a Stranger. The disciples began to speak to the
Stranger about all that had happened in Jerusalem during the previous week. They were “prevented” from recognizing the Stranger, Jesus, perhaps partly by preoccupation with their own disappointment and problems. As they journeyed on, Jesus showed them how the Scriptures had foretold all that He had done and suffered, including His death and its purpose. His coming to them and walking alongside of them illustrates the truth that the road to Emmaus is a road of companionship with Jesus Who desires to walk with each of us.
The Risen Lord, now freed from the space-time limits of His earthly life, is present in our midst and wants to be our Friend. He desires that we walk with Him and with one another: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3). He wants to join us in our journeys of life: “I am a Companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts” (Ps: 119:63).
Yes, it was a great privilege for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to meet Jesus, to listen to Him explaining the Scriptures to them, and to share in the Eucharist with Him. But let us remember that the Risen Lord is with us always, in the Eucharist we celebrate, in the Word we hear, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).