Gospel—Luke 24; 35 – 48
The Alleluias continue to ring out as we are still at the early part of this Easter Season. The Church calls us to sustain this Easter joy for seven weeks, but like the lilies that adorned our churches on Easter Sunday, time takes its’ toll on us. After a week or two of Alleluias we seem to slide back into the attitude of business as usual. We had the forty days of Lent, the three days of the Triduum, and have completed fourteen days of Easter. We might be thinking, it’s time to get back to my “normal” Christian life. The Gospel reminds us today that once we encounter the Risen Lord, there is no turning back to the way we were. The Church celebrates this with an Easter Season for fifty days. We still have thirty-six days to go in our Easter Season, and hopefully when we celebrate Pentecost the joy of Easter will continue to deepen our faith for the rest of our lives.
The two disciples who left Jerusalem to return to Emmaus, which supposedly their home, give the Impression that after the Passion and Death of the Lord, and even after they had heard of the empty tomb, they were going home to return to business as usual. They encounter the Risen Lord, who they did not recognize, and he explains what happened to Jesus in light of the Scriptures. It is not until they invite the Risen Lord to join them for supper that they recognize who it is, in the breaking of the bread.
The Gospel today picks up with the two having run back to Jerusalem to join the Apostles in the Upper Room to share with them the joy that they had seen the Risen the Lord. They were overflowing with a joy that could not be contained.
The Good News did not remain in the Upper Room with the disciples and apostles, the Risen Lord called them out of the room and into the world. At first they went back to their usual routine, fishing, and there they continued to encounter the Risen Lord. He showed them where to cast their nets, he prepared a meal for them, and he continued to teach them. During these days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost they gradually moved from being “fishermen” to “fishers of men.” Their lives were changed and of the original twelve, Judas betrayed, John was imprisoned and tortured numerous times but died a natural death, and the other ten all died a martyrs death. Their lives were changed and they progressed from the group hiding behind locked doors to the apostles, boldly preaching the message, knowing that their lives were in danger because of that. Through their experience of the risen Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit their lives were changed, and fear and sorrow became courage and joy.
The Church gives us these fifty days of Easter so that we can continue to rejoice that Jesus is Risen, and that in rejoicing we embrace more tightly the presence of the Risen Lord. There are trials, sorrows and fears that burden us. The message Easter is to bring these to Jesus. As we look upon our burdens look at the Cross and realize that Jesus suffered for us. He knows what burdens are, and he accepted ours. Look upon Jesus and realize that he is with us. The Risen Lord is Alive and has not left us. He calls us to come out of ourselves and into his presence. The Risen Lord calls us to sing for joy, Alleluia! He is Risen!
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B