3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER – A
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION
Acts 2:14, 22-28; 1Pt 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
Today we look at a story about two people who had an experience on the evening
of what we have come to know as Easter Sunday. It had been a long day. Early in
the morning women went to the tomb to care for the body of Jesus, only to find his
tomb open and his body missing. Peter and John verified the absence of the body.
Reports were out that Mary Magdalene actually talked with Jesus. It was a day
unlike any other. This is where we pick up our story of today’s Gospel. “Now that
same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles
from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had
happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus
himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from
recognizing him” (Lk 24:13-16).
We do not know who these people were. But they were heading home to Emmaus.
St. Luke, who is the only evangelist to report to incidence, says it was about seven
miles from Jerusalem. While walking home, Jesus joins them. The text tells us that
they were “kept from recognizing him”. We do not know if they were kept from
recognizing him by God or by their current mental state. Let us take a look at their
1. THE MINDSET OF THE DISCIPLES
“He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They
stood still, their faces downcast” They later revealed that their worry was “About
Jesus of Nazareth”. What follows reveals a lot about what was going on the in
minds of the disciples of Jesus after his death and at his resurrection. St. Luke takes
great pains to show us that these disciples were “NOT EXPECTING” the
resurrection of Jesus. They were talking about the events of the weekend but Luke
says, their faces were downcast. They said, “we had hoped that he was the one
who was going to redeem Israel.” Since he had died, they no longer had that hope.
A dead man could not be the Messiah. At least, that is what they thought. The
events earlier in the day did not fill them with joy, only more confusion and anxiety.
The events in Jerusalem were so tragic that the travelers could not believe that this
stranger did not know the news about Jesus (note: Jesus never said He did not know
about the events).
2. JESUS’ GREAT SERMON TO THE TWO TRAVELLERS
“He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that
the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then
enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained
to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk 24:25-27).
Ordinarily, Jesus could have smile and said simply, “I’m baaaack!” But that is
what we would be inclined to do. Instead, Jesus started with the first books of
the Old Testament and went through to the last books and showed that the
Bible pointed to everything that happened.
Imagine Jesus beginning from Genesis, pointing out that the one who would crush
the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15) was going to be Jesus. Imagine Jesus pointing to
the entire sacrificial system and showing that sin has to be paid for and it must be
by a lamb without blemish. He would have point out that the Messiah would be the
perfect and final sacrifice. Perhaps Jesus turned to Psalm 22 and reminded them of
the chilling similarity to the events that took place around the cross. He probably
pointed to the prophetic passages that talk about a suffering servant and maybe
even the closing words of Malachi that point to the coming of the forerunner, John
the Baptist. It would have been an incredible sermon to hear as Jesus opened their
eyes to the truth of God’s great plan from the beginning of creation.
Later on, we are told that the travelers reflected back on this teaching session and
said “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road
and opened the Scriptures to us” (Lk 24:32). As Jesus talked to them, the Holy
Spirit brought light and understanding to these travelers. That is the kind of internal
spur every Christian should all be looking for. Two things are noticeable here:
a) Jesus brought them to the Scriptures to understand who He was and what
He came to do. He could have just talked to them using his own word. But Jesus
knew that God’s Word enlightens more than the words of men. It is God’s Word
that will not return empty. It is God’s Word that is sharper than any two-edged
sword. Jesus teaches us that we must be people of the book, people of the
b) The faith of these travelers grew because of what they heard. St. Paul
tells us, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the Word of
God” (Romans 10:17) The more Jesus showed them the Scriptures, the more these
men moved from discouragement to belief. Every verse that was shared was one
more brick in the bridge of faith. One can imagine the men nodding their heads
saying, “Yes, that makes sense.” They came to see that his death was not the end
of their hope of salvation. In fact, it was the means of their hope for salvation! For
the first time they saw clearly, in spite of the many instructions that Jesus had
given them on this subject prior to his death.
This account reminds us that it is God’s Word that brings conviction, understanding
and comfort. We need to read the Bible and we need to point others to the Bible.
For instance, if you want to learn how to swim, it is not enough to just have
someone tell you how or even to watch someone else swim. If you want to swim,
you actually have to get in the water and kick and stroke. The same is true in our
relationship with God. If we want to know him, we cannot just listen to what others
say or watch what others do. We actually have to dive into the Bible for ourselves,
and read it, and internalize it.
3. THE GREAT REALIZATION
Following this great conversation, the travelers reach Emmaus. We are told, in Lk
24:28-31, that Jesus was going to keep on with his journey but these men urged
him to stay with them. They expressed concern for Jesus, but it is also clear that
their greater reason for asking him to stay was their worry for his security and their
desire to hear him teach some more. It sounds like the get-together of old friends
after many years apart. There is lot to catch up with. One never gets tired at such
moments. You stayed up late into the night because you are catching up on things.
You are not tired.
When Jesus entered their home, they prepared some food. They were so impressed
with the spiritual depth of their companion that they asked Jesus to pray. As Jesus
said grace, the men knew they were in the presence of God. One can imagine the
intimacy in that moment when they knew they were standing on Holy Ground.
Suddenly it all came together. They saw with the eyes of faith and then they
recognized that they had been talking to Jesus this whole time. Perhaps they saw
the nail prints as he broke the bread. St. Luke does not tell us how they knew it was
Jesus. All we know is that they did. Jesus disappeared. They were overwhelmingly
elated. They were speechless. They were excited. They were filled with life.
4. THE GREAT CELEBRATION
We recall that Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem. It was already later
in the day. They had encouraged Jesus to stay with them because it was getting too
late to travel. Yet, what do these travelers do? “They got up and returned at once
to Jerusalem” (Lk 24:33). Certainly, the trip back was much shorter than the trip
home. They had to go back to Jerusalem! This news was too good to keep
to themselves! They now understood the Scriptures. They were convinced Jesus
was the Christ, the Lord of life. They had to tell everyone else. The darkness did
not matter. There was no need to fear travelling because Jesus is Alive!
On their way home, their feet had shuffled from discouragement; they talked in
discouraged tones. The trip back to Jerusalem was as different as darkness from
light. Their pace was quick; their tone was animated and filled with excitement.
They could not wait to share the news. They probably jogged back to Jerusalem,
reliving those wonderful moments when their hearts burned because they were
enlightened. Soon, they arrived at the place where “THE ELEVEN” were
gathered. This was a name for the disciples, not necessarily the number of disciples
present (for, we know Judas and Thomas were both absent). They walked into the
room to tell them the great news. They were all too excited. They shared their
5. THE TWO MAJOR PART OF THE HOLY MASS
There is a doctrinal issue worth mentioning here. The Emmaus encounter is one of
the post-resurrection incidents aimed at confirming that Jesus had really risen from
the dead. But the Emmaus encounter is not only a thing in the past. We continue
encountering the Risen Christ at this time of ours through the Sacred Scriptures (or
the Word of God) and Breaking of the Bread (or the Holy Eucharist) that
compose also as the two parts of the Holy Mass: the LITURGY OF THE WORD
and the LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST.
For many Christians today, the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist have provided
meaning in their lives, solace and strength as they go on with their pilgrimage
towards the Kingdom of God. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, despite her
busy schedules, said that she falters in her work if she does not get nourishment
from the Eucharist.
However, encountering the Lord in His Word and the Holy Eucharist is not just for
us alone. Like the disciples at Emmaus, who after encountering Jesus, went home
and told the other disciples about their own experience, we have to spread the good
news. This is the communitarian or social dimension of our faith. That is why at
the end of every Mass, the celebrant exhorts the faithful: God and announce the
6. THE MESSAGE ON THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
a) The Resurrection of Jesus does not create a new faith. It is the
fulfillment of the Old. Some people think that Easter Sunday was the start of a
new religion (Christianity). They are wrong! Jesus took great pains to show that
the redemptive plan of God throughout the Old Testament was pointing to him!
This is the culmination of God’s plan from all eternity.
b) Anyone who only embraces part of the story of Jesus will find
him/herself unsatisfied. Jesus was the Promised One of God who died to pay for
our sin and rose again so that we might enter into a full and eternal life. We need
the resurrection in order to understand the suffering of Jesus and to experience the
transforming power of his life. We need to see the whole picture! In order to see
this BIG PICTURE, WE NEED TO KNOW THE BIBLE. We need to study
c) The good news is too good to be kept to ourselves. If Jesus is our best
friend, we cannot fail to tell others about him and the way of salvation. The TRUTH
about Jesus changes EVERYTHING. It changes our approach to life and our view
of death. It changes our priorities and our relationship with others. It is truth that
should burn within us, excite us, and motivate us to live differently. If the news of
Jesus does not change the direction of our lives, then we have not understood the
Like with the confused disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus is walking with us
during times of great joy, as well as in our darkest moments. At times we become
so caught up and distracted with what’s happening in our lives that we fail to
recognize his presence. Amidst the big scare and confusion caused by the scourge
of the Corona Virus, Jesus doesn’t give up and leave us, he continues to walk with
us. Sometimes we don’t realize his presence and how it is strengthening us, but it
is. (Narrate the story of the FOOTPRINTS—the man who walked with Jesus, only
to discover later on that at certain parts of the journey, only a single pair of
footprints could be found on the sand. He believed that Jesus had abandoned him
at those moments. But Jesus assures the man that he, Jesus, carried him on his
shoulders, given that the were treading on dangerous ground…)
In this uncertain and sorrowful time, God wants us to bring to him all of our worries
and our sorrows through his Son, Jesus Christ. “Come to me, all you who labour
and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mtt 11:28). May God open our
eyes so that we can see clearly. May we experience the touch of the risen Jesus that
testifies to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. May we hear the assuring words
of Jesus “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20).