One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 06, 2008

For the Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:13-35
Acts 2:14,22-33
1 Peter 1:17-21

Emmaus, a village some miles from Jerusalem, shows up only twice in the Word of God.
Both times Emmaus is where the shadow of crushing defeat menaces the People of God, and both times God gives them victory.
The first time was in the days of the Maccabees [1 Mac. 4], when an overwhelming pagan army came to Emmaus, and prepared to attack the People of God.
The Maccabee leading the People of God bolstered their hearts, saying:
Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge.
Remember how our fathers were saved at the Red Sea,
when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them.
And now let us cry to Heaven,
to see whether he will favor us and remember his covenant with our fathers and crush this army before us today.
Then all the pagans will know that there is ONE WHO REDEEMS AND SAVES ISRAEL

In the days of the Maccabees, ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS, the People of God and their pagan enemies saw indeed ”that there is ONE WHO REDEEMS AND SAVES ISRAEL.”
In the days of Jesus, ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS, Cleopas and the other disciple of Jesus said they had been “hoping that [Jesus] would be THE ONE TO REDEEM ISRAEL.”
As they spoke those words, their hopes had seemed dashed— but they soon got what they were hoping for.
Earlier in the day, some women told them they had seen angels who said Jesus was alive.
The two men didn’t believe.
After seeing more than a lifetime’s worth in the last eight days, perhaps they just didn’t know what to believe.
A week before, the festival pilgrims thronging to Jerusalem had given Jesus a loud welcome befitting a triumphal king.
Then on the sixth day of the week, the nation’s highest religious and civil authorities killed him.
If the Messianic “Hosanna” could turn into the criminal “Crucify him!” then perhaps Cleopas and his fellow disciple thought that alleged angelic heralds of a resurrection could also turn out to be demons of deception and dismay.
Whatever the case might have been, Cleopas and the other were now going as in defeat on the road to Emmaus.
Jesus, the ONE WHO REDEEMS AND SAVES ISRAEL, went after them.
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”

Jesus already knew what the two men were discussing.
As St. Peter put it in the first reading today, all the things that had occurred did so “by the set plan and foreknowledge of God.”
Cleopas answered the question of Jesus.
Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?

Jesus was “the only visitor to Jerusalem who” REALLY knew what happened there.”
However, Jesus doesn’t tell them he knows, but instead knowingly sets them up by asking them to tell him the things that happened in Jerusalem.
As they tell him the story about himself, he lets them go on, and does not tell them they are talking about him.
He does unfold for them the fact that the Word of God had foretold that the anointed redeemer of Israel would suffer and so enter into his glory.
As Cleopas and the other disciple listened to Jesus, his words warmed up their thoughts and decisions, but they still did not see who he really was.
Then, as their road ended at Emmaus, they urged Jesus to stay the night with them.
And it happened that,
while he was with them at table,
he took bread,
said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that
their eyes were opened
and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.

Now they knew he was Jesus the ONE WHO REDEEMS AND SAVES ISRAEL.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus had been setting them up.
He had broken open for them the meaning of the Scriptures, with his final breaking open of the Scriptures being his blessing and breaking of bread.
Now they believe, and now they know.
What is the first thing they want to do after coming to know they have seen the living Jesus?
Their first decision is to share the truth with the Church.
“So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together” the apostles and other disciples.
However, before Cleopas and the other disciple even got a chance to tell of the victory at Emmaus, the Church in Jerusalem told them:
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

The believers in Jerusalem did not say, “The Lord to US.”
Instead, they said the Lord appeared to SIMON— SIMON PETER.
The risen Lord blessed Simon Peter with a one-on-one private reunion, and the testimony of Simon Peter was enough for the rest of the Church to believe:
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

They had not all seen Jesus alive with their own eyes, but they believed because Simon Peter testified.
Jesus does not show himself so that each of us sees him with our bodily eyes.
Rather, just as Jesus is the only eyewitness of his Father, and came to speak of his Father, so Jesus made his apostles his own eyewitnesses, and sent them to speak on his behalf.
Everything in today’s Gospel testimony happened on the first day of the week.
Ever since then, we have run back to the Church on the first day of the week to break open the Scriptures as Jesus did on this day when he rose from the dead.
We come to the Church to let Jesus make himself known to us in the breaking of the bread.
Every first day of the week, the day of the Resurrection, we come to join the successors of the apostles in testifying,
The Lord has truly been raised
and has appeared to Simon!

We are to carry that testimony to Emmaus and all places without faith, even all the faithless places inside our own lives, and let it be known, borrowing the words of the Maccabee at Emmaus of old, that Jesus remembers his covenant with our fathers the apostles, Jesus the ONE WHO REDEEMS AND SAVES.

That God Be Glorified in All


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