3rd Sunday Easter – April 23, 2023

Last weekend, we explored how, each of us, has been given the grace, according to the measure of Christ’s gift, of MERCY, to better enable us, to become God’s agents of the Good News to anyone and everyone whom the Lord sends our way.

This weekend, we’ll explore the gift of the Word and the Eucharist, in bringing us into lively dialogue with God and revealing to us, what grace we’re being given to advance God’s reign, according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

One of the graces we’ve been given is the ability to share our faith, like one day, when an American, an Italian, and a Canadian found themselves standing before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.  He told them that before they could enter Heaven, they each had to tell him what they thought was the meaning of Easter.

The American replies, “Easter is a holiday where the family gets together to roll Easter eggs, and eat Turkey.

St. Peter replies,  “Sorry, not the right answer,” and sends the American to purgatory.

The Italian is up next.  He says, “Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and exchange wine and salami.”

St. Peter, looking disappointed, replies, “Sorry, not the right answer either,” and sends the Italian to purgatory.

The Canadian is the last one up.  He says, “I know what Easter is!”

“Easter is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus’ triumphant rising from the dead, fulfilling the promise he made to his disciples, that, on the third day after his death, he would rise to new life!   They Romans knew about this promise, and so they buried him in a tomb behind a very large boulder.”

St. Peter was impressed and was about to open the heavenly gates, when the Canadian continued,  “Now, every year, at Easter, someone rolls away the bolder and Jesus comes out again.  If he sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of hockey in Canada.”

Well, at least the Canadian got the true significance of the resurrection event right!   And I’m sure God would have had mercy on him and allowed him to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let’s face it, if each of us were to ask some random people on the streets of Sudbury, what Easter is all about, we’d probably get some pretty creative responses as well.  But rather than lament any ignorance or disbelief that we might uncover,  Jesus teaches us in today’s gospel, to accompany such persons wherever they may happen to be in their faith journey, and to assist them in coming to recognize the presence of Christ in his Word, in the Eucharist, in one another,  and indeed, in  all of creation.   That doesn’t mean that we’ve arrive ourselves either!  We’re still on a learning curve, to explore and plummet more fully, each day, the depths of our own faith experience and the impact the Resurrection is meant to have in our lives.  The point Jesus makes on his journey to Emmaus,  is that we don’t need to know the entirety of the Christian witness, in order to allow Christ to have a strong impact on us.  That’s the deep underlying grace that, if we accept it, can help us to grapple with the tough questions of life and still remain faithful.    That’s what Jesus is doing with the men on the road to Emmaus.

For us today, the destination of Emmaus, can be seen as the graced moment when we come to recognize the risen Lord deep within us, and all around us, and are ready to embrace that resurrection experience and to celebrate it with joy.

And so, the first grace God gives us on the road to Emmaus is the grace of his presence.

  1. Notice that Jesus is simply being present to them, remaining anonymous and playing dumb about what has caused them to be distressed.

We, too, are called to engage in….

  • A ministry of presence to others whose lives are in upheaval in some way (the homeless, the mentally ill,  the refugee,   the new immigrant)
  • A ministry of presence to the disappointed and those whose hopes have been dashed (those who’ve been hurt by the residential school scandal, those who feel the church’s teachings on various moral issues is lacking)
  • A ministry of presence in any locale where the wanderer, the loner, the questioner may happen to be. (the skeptical teen, the spiritual but not religious segment of society,  the unchurched)

The second grace God gives on the road to Emmaus is his willingness to….

  1. Engage in purposeful conversation with others. When Jesus explains to them all that the prophets had written concerning the Messiah. (midrashing) 
  • Hearing their questions and responding to them to the best of his ability.

(taking into account the age, education, life-experiences of the seeker)

  • Speaking about current events and how they can be viewed through the lens of faith. (being engaged and informed about the tough issues facing our society today)    
  • May bring about more questions, deeper questions, or a receptivity to mystery that wasn’t there before. (OK not to have all the answers, but to respect the questions and allow them to sit uncomfortably with us.)

A relevant Tweet last week from Pope Francis, “ One does not proclaim the Gospel standing still, locked in an office, at one’s desk, or at one’s computer, engaging in polemics, like ‘keyboard warriors’ and replacing the creativity of proclamation with copy-and-paste ideas taken from here and there.”

The third grace Jesus is giving us on the road to Emmaus is to be Inviters!

  • Invite others to find what we’ve found!
  • To join us for special events at church
  • To give others reasons for our belief in the Good News of Christ!
  • To be persons of mercy and forgiveness.
  • To look out for the poor
  • To reach out to those whom others have discarded and to help all persons to feel welcomed by the church

Recent studies have shown that people ….

are more likely to respond in a positive way to a personal invitation to an event, than to a general one.

are more likely to attend,  if they’re able to go with someone whom they already know.

Ex.  When the men invite Jesus to stay with them overnight!

The 4th grace Jesus gives to us on the road to Emmaus is giving others of our time!

  • No timetables, no rushing to reach some ‘aha’ moment
  • No hidden agendas or repercussions, if we don’t come to faith all at once.
  • Means taking time to do liturgy well, time to learn the scriptures on a deeper level, allowing God’s time to encapsulate us when we pray.
  • Means taking time to reflect on our faith journey & where God may be leading us

When we relinquish control,  that’s when the Holy Spirit can work miracles in us!

It’s the HS’s job to bring about conversion of heart, mind and soul.

Our job is to be a receptive vessel of God’s Spirit and offer hospitality, kindness, love and mercy to those whom we encounter along our life’s journey.

Recall that after Jesus took bread, “he blessed and broke it and gave it to them…. their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.  And then he vanished from their sight.”

Why did he vanish?

Because they now had a sacramental encounter with the risen Lord that transcended space and time!  It was no longer necessary for Jesus to be physically present to them because NOW, he dwelled in their hearts, minds, and souls.    May we, therefore, open ourselves up to the grace of lively dialogue with God, so as to enter more deeply into our own celebration of breaking bread, as we seek to be God’s intentional missionary disciples to a world that sorely needs to hear the proclamation,  “the Lord is risen!”

Next weekend, we’ll explore, on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the grace we’ve been given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift, to live out our vocations fully and joyfully.

(children for 1st communion:  Recognizing Jesus in the Word of God which we heard proclaimed and in the breaking of the Bread, the ringing of the bells, etc.)


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