Happy Third Sunday of Easter

04-23-2023Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian Manning

Our society has become more conscious of our “throw away” or “disposable” culture. The issues of oil, gas and renewable resources for power and heat are in fact at times mind boggling. Not all the answers and solutions are easily apparent. We now are constantly reminded that our environment and health are caught up in these questions of what is environmentally positive and what is environmentally negative. We are challenged about what we have and what we use; how we use it and then how do we dispose of it. The reality is that life is more than just a blue environmental recycle bucket, but the blue recycle bucket is a necessary early step. We are challenged to purchase and use items that will last a long time, items that are made to last and not to be thrown away after a single or brief use. We are struggling to conserve how we use electricity and also gas and oil efficiently. Our scripture this weekend also is addressing the topic about things that last. We are being told about things that will ever endure though out time. 

In our passage from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter told his listeners that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. Peter stated that Jesus rose from the dead and is indeed the Messiah. In Peter’s use of the Old Testament, he highlighted that the promise of God was that one of David’s descendants would be the Messiah. We learn in the special psalm of David that God shows us hope in things that are lasting. We are to know and remember that we will be saved from the corruption of our sinfulness and also have everlasting joy in the presence of God. This reward of salvation was purchased for us with the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, not with material gold or silver. We are told that in order to share this glory, we must put our faith and hope in the risen Christ. 

In the Emmaus story we hear how the disciples did not recognize Jesus at first. In fact Jesus had to remind them, even before they had recognized him, that the prophets long ago had said the Christ needed to suffer many things before he entered into his glory. We learn that it is at the very end of the journey, in the breaking of the bread at the evening meal, that the disciples recognized their fellow traveler to be Jesus and began to understand the worth of his gift.

Luke on this occasion used one of the themes John found in the Easter Gospel story, namely things are not always as they seem. The story line is the two disciples did not recognize Jesus and thought he was just another uninformed traveler. They say that the sun was in the eyes of the apostles as Jesus approached and thus did not recognize Him, but this does not hold for long as a reason for not recognizing Him because He continued to journey with them and they still did not know Him. They chatted and talked with Him all along the way, but they did not recognize who He was. They did focus some of their discussion on what happened to Jesus, even including the nasty jeer, “If he cannot save himself, how can he save others?” Sadly this question of theirs has in some ways become our question. When they finally ate together and broke bread with their “new” friend, they began to see the truth—the everlasting truth about what had taken place. Slowly they were beginning to understand that in order to share in the promised glory, they had to put their faith and hope in the risen Christ, whom at last they recognized.

For us, we also journey along with Jesus. Overtime hopefully we come to understand and believe as did the apostles. The story of Emmaus has many meanings, and one of them is to remind us that faith is not perfect or absolute, that in fact, we will have many questions and only slowly will be come to understand and believe more deeply.