Acts 2: 14-22,23; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
The Gospel message has a serious link with the First reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The events of the Gospel of today took place before the event reported in the first reading of today. First reading flows naturally from the Gospel reading. On the first day of the week, precisely in the evening, Jesus met his disciples on the way to Emmaus and joined them in their discussion like a stranger without them knowing that it was him. Jesus disposed them towards him first before revealing himself to them. The disciples welcomed him in their midst and were much at home with him to the extent that they had become friends as they discussed along the road and as the “masked” Jesus opened the prophets and Moses to them. That is, he opened to them all that the Prophets and Torah have said about the redeemer. They were happy with his expositions to the extent that it was very hard for them to separate from him. Thus, when they came nearer to where they were going, Jesus behaved and moved as if he was moving further beyond the village. But they begged him earnestly to come and pass the night with them since the day was already far spent (Luke 24:29). The unrecognized Jesus agreed. It was during the breaking of bread that night that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, immediately he was taken away from their sight. It became very clear to them that the person they had been discussing with was Jesus. He thus left them after clearing their doubts on the veracity of his resurrection.
What can we learn from this? Goodness pays as well as kindness. The disciples on the way to Emmaus received and treated their co-traveler well. Only God knows what would have happened if they were to be harsh to him. This proves also the fact that: “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me” (Matt 25:40). In OT, Abraham entertained three men visitors without knowing that he was entertaining God’s messengers (Gen 18:1-15) and that merited him the promise and eventual gift of the child Isaac. In the NT, Saul persecuted the followers of Christ without knowing that he was persecuting Christ himself (Acts 9:1-6). Through that encounter he became a follower of Christ and defender of the faith. Hence the saying, no one encounters Christ and remains the same.
This brings us to another strong point of today’s Eucharistic celebration, which is the fact that no authentic Christian would get the message of Christ and hold it to himself/herself. He must be pushed by the desire to share. Just as salt in a boiling pot cannot remain at a spot, it spreads wide to make every side of the content of the pot salty. In the same way, a he-goat cannot pass people without telling people that he is around the corner. In the same vein, the people that begged the stranger that later turned Jesus to remain with them did not mind again the fact that it was already dark; they set out immediately and returned to Jerusalem to inform the eleven apostles and those that were with them their experience on their way to Emmaus that evening. They could not hold the message with them so they had to leave for Jerusalem immediately. The message they had dispelled all fears from them to travel again that far that night on foot. The Good news gives power to the soul. Thus, when the eyes of the apostles on the way to Emmaus were opened, fear of darkness and unknown disappeared from them. They courageously left for Jerusalem immediately not minding the menace of night marauders. Thus, justifying the saying, “One with God is majority.”
Furthermore, they thought that their message would sound incredulous to the apostles and others. They thought it would be difficult to convince them to accept their story. They never knew that Jesus had made their ministry easier by also revealing himself to Simon Peter earlier. Thus, they were told, when they rejoined them, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34). The only thing the two did was to narrate their own experience of Jesus on the way and how he was recognized during the breaking of bread. This same breaking of bread in unison has since then been with the Church; the Church does it daily. It is very unfortunate that our sins are continually blocking our eyes to the extent of not recognizing Jesus in the breaking of bread. It is unfortunate that some people are no longer making honest effort to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist daily.
The testimony of Mary Magdalene and the women with her on the empty tomb story, the testimony of Simon Peter, and the testimony of the two apostles on the way to Emmaus have started strengthening the apostles and disciples though fear and doubt were still with the rest; hence the necessity of the first reading of today.
After the election of Matthias (Acts 1:12-26) so as to replace Judas, the Holy Spirit came and vivified especially the Twelve and expelled all remaining fears in them, thus making them more courageous than ever (Acts 2:1-13). Peter now having been accepted by the rest as still worthy leader of the team despite his denial of the Saviour of the world, the Spirit he received during the Pentecost now enabled him to stand boldly in the midst of the eleven and spoke with them to the gathered crowd. Peter convinced them beyond all reasonable doubts and they all felt to have been shot on the heart. Hence, they asked Peter and the rest, “brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37c).
Part of the message the Church really wants us to go home with is: with God all things are possible. For if not for the Spirit of God, the fear gripped-apostles, would not have courageously opened all doors and windows of the room in which they have been and stood boldly before people and defend the one they deserted and denied when he needed them most. With the Spirit of God the empty sack became a filled sack and hence stood erect. This will also remind all priests all over the world that if not for what Christ did for us, we would not have been called and energized to stand and address the crowd in the name of Christ. Hence, without Christ’s support we are nothing. This is because our redemption came from the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19) and not from anything perishable.
Theme: Kindness to People, Especially to Strangers pays
Acts 2: 14-22,23; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35