Gospel – Luke 24; 35 – 48
Three weeks ago, was Easter Sunday but time does not separate us from the joy of the Resurrection. The Gospel today took place on Easter Sunday. The two disciples who left Jerusalem to return to Emmaus gave 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. The journey home was not usual, for on that journey they encountered the Risen Lord. They did not recognize him and told him what had happened back in Jerusalem, Jesus responded by explaining their account in light of the Scriptures. When they invited the Risen Lord to join them for supper, they recognize him 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. More joy came to fill the upper room when the Risen Lord appeared to them. To reassure those in the upper room that it truly was Jesus and that he is Risen, he invited them to examine the wounds, then he asked for something to eat, for ghosts do not eat, and finally he opens their minds to understand what he had taught them, who he is and why he was born into the world. He quotes the prophets and shows that he is the fulfillment of the prophets. Finally, he reminds them that they must now go out and preach the Good News for “You are witnesses of these things.”
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 martyr’s 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, but that did not stop them. 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.
Image: Raphael (1483–1520) and workshop, Christ’s Charge to Saint Peter, Christ Handing the Keys to Saint Peter (1515-16), glue tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 345 x 535 cm, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.