Acts 2:14, 22b-28; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
The First Reading today goes back to the sermon of Peter during Pentecost. The message of Peter is similar to what the two disciples told the stranger they met on the road to Emmaus: Jesus was a man who performed mighty works. He was condemned to death and crucified. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Despite the similar content, the difference is clear. Peter had conviction of what he said while the two disciples were not sure of what happened and as Luke points out, they stood still, looking sad. Why is there a difference between the disposition of Peter and the two disciples? What was different?
For one, Peter was speaking days after the Resurrection and he has proven for himself the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus. There were also instances where he experienced the Risen Jesus. For the disciples, this was the day when Jesus rose from the dead. They were still processing what they heard and they have not encountered Jesus.
We see that once they recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread, once they encountered the Risen Jesus, there was a change in their disposition. Instead of taking safety in the middle of the night, in a house, they dared travel the dangerous road up to Jerusalem to tell the Apostles. The fear is gone, only the joy and excitement an conviction was there.
This is why Christians believe the Resurrection is the key to our faith and why it is important for people to encounter the Risen Christ. This encounter however is a a gift from God because on our own, we cannot force an encounter with Jesus. Jesus comes as he pleases. We can ask Jesus to allow us to meet him so we experience what Peter said in the Second Reading: trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Why is our faith and hope on God possible when we believe in the resurrection? The Collect in today’s mass tells us: we rejoice in the restored glory of our adoption. The Resurrection reminds us that Jesus has restored us back as adopted children of God, confident that he hears our prayers and confident he will reveal himself to us. The encounter with the Risen Jesus reveals who he is. When we open our hearts to him, we will see Jesus as he is.
As a revelation from God, it is God who will tell us what he shows. The Psalm tells us: I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructions me. How can we allow God to reveal himself? The Psalm continues: I keep the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. We get to see what God reveals only when we keep him before us, when we fix our eyes on God alone. The two disciples fixed their eyes on Jesus as he broke bread, which is why their eyes were opened and recognized him. AND more importantly, even as Jesus vanished from their eyes, they still believed.
In this situation we are in today, is is normal to feel despair and desolation. It is normal to feel helpless and hopeless. There is no sense of shame or guilt if we feel this way, because it is normal. But as Christians, we believe there is more to these feelings: the hope of something better beyond this, that is encountering the Risen Lord.
How can we encounter the Risen Lord so we may trust God? How can our faith and hope be set on God? We said, encountering God is a gift from God. The only way to receive this gift is to ask because Jesus said Ask and you shall receive. We ask God to give us this opportunity to encounter the Risen Jesus. Once we have asked for this, we open our eyes in hope because God will give us what we ask. How did the two disciples come to recognize Jesus? He first interpreted Scriptures to them that their hearts burn and the fully recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
This underscores the importance of Scripture and the Eucharist in a Catholic’s life. We see what God says about himself in Scripture and we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.
To end, we take the Gospel Acclamation as our prayer: “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn with love when you speak.” Let me encounter you in Scripture and the Eucharist. Teach me to trust you and may I keep you before me as I set with hope and faith in you. Come Lord, give me hope in the midst of despair, healing in the midst of disease, light in the midst of darkness. Come Lord. I trust you.