Third Sunday of Easter: “We Proclaim His Presence!”
Acts 2: 29-36
1 Peter 1: 13-21
Luke 24: 13-35
EASTER! I do not think that it will be an overstatement to say that this is the most glorious time of the year! This Feast of Easter took all of 40 days during the Season of Lent for ourselves to get ready and it takes us 50 days to joyfully observe this Feast. We are now on day 15 of 50.
We are now enjoying the benefits of the Resurrection. What is it about the Resurrection that makes it most important and significant in the life of every Christian The Resurrection is a historical fact. It is an indisputable event that really happened at a date, time and place in the course of human history. It is not a fairy tale – a “Once upon a time” or a myth – “In a far away place a long time ago”. The Resurrection is true and real.
Secondly, the ancient Christians believe that the Resurrection was not just a miraculous event of a man who died and then 3 days later rose again. For these Christians in the early church, the events of Easter were not just a fact – that a man who once lived, died, and rose again. That was the fact of Easter. Almost everyone then, even today knows and believes that. But the Christians extended that Easter fact to an Easter faith. More than a fact it is a life of faith. That was what made the difference to them then and that is what will make a difference to us today. They believed that the resurrection of Christ has far reaching and extensive effects in their lives. They heard Jesus say, “Even if you die, you live.” This was a puzzling statement to His hearers when they first heard it, but after the resurrection, it became more real and clear.
We now come to the Gospel for today. Two men were walking on that Sunday toward a village called Emmaus, discussing the events that have transpired during the past days. They were downcast and seemingly disheartened, crestfallen. After all, like most Jews living at that time, their hopes were shattered when they saw Christ crucified. They were expecting a victorious King on a war horse; they got a carpenter riding on a donkey. They expected a politician to free them from Rome; they got a prophet teaching them parables. They were expecting a ferocious lion of Judah; they received a meek lamb that was slain. No wonder they were disheartened.
So as they proceed, Jesus then enters their conversation and joins them in their walk. It says that they were restrained from recognizing Him. I think that it was their discouragement that restrained them. Their response to Him displayed their remorse , bewilderment and grief.
As their walk progressed, probably a walk for two and a half-hours, Jesus relates through Scriptures about this Messiah whom they were expecting. As He did, something strangely and wonderfully pleasant happened to them. They admitted later that something within them was burning in their hearts – the fire of the Holy Spirit, the warmth of the love of God, the heart of Jesus.
Upon reaching their destination, they insisted that Jesus spend the night with them. It was at this time, when they shared a meal with Him, breaking bread together. Jesus used the same four-fold action which the Church uses in the Holy Eucharist: (1) took bread; (2) gave thanks; (3) broke it; (4) gave it to them. This is what we are mimicking two thousand years after. Suddenly, what started on that long walk on the road to Emmaus, found its climax as their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.
The power of the Resurrection of Christ opens a whole new dimension in the life of man – yours and mine. It brings humanity to God’s original intention in creating man: to always walk with God in the cool of the day; to have a have a deep sense of fellowship – a profound, unfathomable awareness of God’s presence. The Jews called God – Jehovah Shammah (the Lord is there). Christians call Him, “Emmanuel” (God with us).
And so the early Christians realized the surpassing value of God’s presence. It was the means for the Church to thrive in this cruel, harsh, perverse world and to overcome all the obstacles of life. The real presence of Christ is needed that is so uplifting & heart-warming. It is the presence of God brought about by the Holy Spirit Who works, hovering over the depths of man’s heart.
This is what happened on that road to Emmaus after the Resurrection: Jesus, Who is the Living Word of God enters the lives of two distraught men and transforms them. While they were walking, He transformed them in two ways: first, through the Living Word given in Holy Scriptures by Jesus. The Holy Scriptures, written down by different men during various times of history under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has always been a profitable weapon for us to be equipped with.
Luke 24:27 says, “ Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was previously written was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Jesus also transformed the two distraught men by bringing the Living Word in the Breaking of the Bread – (now the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the deepest and most intimate meeting point between God and Man. It is the point where heaven comes down to God’s people. It is the eternal love story that brings God’s life into us, so that our lives might be His.
In John 6:35, Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” In verse 51, Jesus says, “ I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
In the gospels, on the night that He instituted the Holy Eucharist, Jesus said, “This is My Body. This is My Blood.” Was this just a symbol or is it reality? It is this power of God’s real presence brought about by and because of the Resurrection of Christ through the living word, through the Scriptures, and the living words through the Holy Eucharist.
1 Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again, not from perishable seed, but imperishable, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
As you and I journey through this Easter time, with the ECQ, the COVID-19 crisis, our shattered economy, our future in the back drop, we are not alone. The eternal Lord and Christ is with us.
Peter encourages us to prepare our minds for action, to set our hope fully on the grace (ability & power) given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:13) He further assures us that this Jesus Who was crucified and killed by the greatest power on earth, was raised to life by the Greater Almighty God of heaven and earth. It says to us, “Lift up your hearts and see, behold, and recognize Him. The Lord is here! Stir up this reality in our lives.
As one Easter song says, “Christ is alive, we live in Him. Freedom and joy where death had been. Join as the dance of life begin. Hallelujah!”
Dance with the Lord who is ever-present with us!