Third Sunday of Easter - Fr. Pete Iorio
April 22, 2023 - 5:00 PM
April 23, 2023 - 8:30 AM
Would you consider yourself directionally challenged? You could not find your way out of a paper bag as the saying goes.
Let us use this idea of going in the wrong direction as the foundation for understanding this wonderful Easter story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Emmaus? If you read the little white book each day this past week, you would have learned that Scripture scholars have not determined exactly where this town is. In any case, the disciples are going from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They are going away from the city of Jerusalem where Jesus the Christ showed His power in a way that is very different than worldly power. Jerusalem is the city of the cross…the way of suffering love.
We can say that the two disciples are going in the wrong direction if they are truly disciples. These two disciples really represent ALL of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus the Teacher and Master. We very often prefer to go in the direction of security AND all that this word encompasses: physical security/defense systems; financial security; political and even religious security with its possible manifestation of an attitude of superiority and arrogance. All of us, myself included, tend to walk the wrong way and seek security and power from the world rather than security in God. Think about your own life and ways of how you do this.
This journey to Emmaus takes place on the first day of the week, the day when God began the work of the Creation of the world. It is the day when Jesus the Christ begins the work of the re-Creation of the world. And even as we walk the wrong way, Jesus comes to us. Jesus drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. It is not easy to recognize God when you are walking the wrong way especially morally.
They stop and ask him a question in response to his query about what they are talking about as they walk. Isn’t that ironic... the only person who does not know? He's THE only person who does know what he is about.
They know data. Their facts are absolutely correct about Jesus of Nazareth. But they don't understand the pattern to make the data coherent.
How many of us can rattle off the facts about Jesus, but fail to not only know the pattern, but LIVE the pattern? The way of Jesus is the path of suffering love.
That's why he says “O, how foolish you are. How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.”
Jesus states the pattern – “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 what is in the Old Testament that referred to him. As he opened the Scriptures, their hearts begin to burn. The Bible becomes alive once you know how to read it.
The pattern is also sacramental. He took bread, said the blessing and broke it. The Eucharist is the suffering love of Jesus. And then, their eyes were opened, they recognized him and he vanished from their sight.
Last Sunday, we celebrated First Holy Communion with 17 of our young people. Please stand if you are here. They received this sacramental gift for the first time. We have a responsibility to teach them to grow in their understanding that this is the Real Presence of Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. They have a long way to go before they understand Eucharist at a deeper level.
Can we like the saints recognize his presence in our sufferings? Can we actually choose his path of sacrificial love not out of some heroic self-aggrandizing act, but in imitation of Jesus who sacrificed his life out of love for all humanity?
When their eyes were opened, these two disciples understood…they “got it.” They returned to Jerusalem. They went in the right direction. They chose the path of self-sacrificing love.
This story on the road to Emmaus is our Mass. We encounter Christ in the breaking open of the Scriptures in the liturgy of the Word AND also in the breaking of the bread – the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
He sends us forth from mass – to go to whatever Jerusalem we encounter … to follow Him in the path of self-sacrificing love.