30Apr 30 April, 2017. 3rd Sunday of Easter

(Saint Pius V, pope)

See Presider’s Page, for Opening Comment, Alternative Opening Prayer (from 1998 ICEL Missal) Prayers of the Faithful, etc.

1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 32-33

At Pentecost, Peter announces the resurrection of Jesus

Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowds, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say: This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.”

2nd Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21

We reverence God our Father, with faith and hope based on the risen Christ

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

At Emmaus, the wayfarers recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, becase it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


Please add your own homily suggestions

Points to ponder on the Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35)

(Pádraig McCarthy)

Since it is written many years after Christians have been meeting on Sundays, and may now be wondering how Jesus is present among them, the story is told in such a way that those Christians will recognise the pattern: they meet, they share their brokenness, they hear the word opened up, they share at table in communion even with one they think is a stranger takes the bread, says a “eulogion”, breaks the bread, gives it to them; having recognised Jesus, they are set on fire to go on a most unexpected mission.

  1. Presupposition 1: The two disciples are men. This is how the scene is illustrated in every piece of art representing it that I have found. The text does not say this – it says “two of them.” In the context it could be any of the disciples. It could be a man and woman, perhaps husband and wife.
  2. Presupposition 2: They are shown as sitting at table, whereas verse 30 says Jesus reclined at table with them.
  3. Humour in the story-telling:
  • We the hearers know it is Jesus who joins the two disciples, so we can see what is happening. Jesus does not reveal himself.
  • We know that the two are telling Jesus about himself as if they know the full story.
  • Jesus is the one who knows the full story.
  • “The day is almost over”, so they go to stay there. But when they realise it was Jesus, the disciples regain their energy, and they return the 60 stadia (7 miles) to Jerusalem – in the dark!
  • The disciples remember Jesus, but with hopes shattered: “We had hoped …”
  • They tell of strange happenings that day: “of him, our friends saw nothing”, while they themselves are not seeing.
  1. Verse 21 (JB) says: “two whole days have gone by.” The Greek has “This is the third day.”
  2. “You foolish men” – but the word “men” is not in the Greek.
  3. Does Jesus reprimand them here? As I picture it, Jesus is enjoying the conversation, and he says this with a broad grin at his friends: “I have news for you!”
  4. In their communion at the table with this stranger, they find new communion.
  5. They find the living Jesus not in a standard Holy Place, but on the road and around a table.
  6. Why does Jesus become invisible to them? Perhaps if he remains visible, our attention will be on the visible presence of Jesus rather than on the Real Presence in one another (which is what the “Real Presence” in the Eucharist serves. I heard many years ago that the original reference of “Mystical Body” was to the Eucharist, and the “Real Presence” was to the Body of which we are members. I’ve not been able to verify that or otherwise.
  7. “Did not our hearts burn within us …” In Greek, we have the word “heart” in the singular: “the heart of us”. At com I checked 56 English translations. 34 have “hearts.” 14 have “heart.” 8 don’t use the word.
    It could be that it means just “the heart of each of us”, or perhaps it is that they are now one in heart. Exegetes, please!
  8. At the tomb in verse 7, the two men in dazzling clothes told the women that on the third day Jesus was to rise (anastenai) again. Now in verse 33, the two disciples, having realised it was Jesus, rose (anastantes) at that very hour. The JB translation misses this, saying “They set out…”
  9. The dispirited and broken disciples, in the breaking of bread, find it is bread of hope, they are set on fire, with a mission to Jerusalem.

Does this Eucharist also tell my story? Yours? Maybe not every Sunday, but perhaps today?

Heart’s hunger and recognition

Kieran O’Mahony osa

We come to Easter faith by acknowledging the hungers of the heart (“our own hope had been”), by searching the scriptures (“our hearts burning within us”), by holding on to the story of the first disciples and witness of the women, by the Eucharist (“the breaking of the bread”) and by sharing our faith (“they told their story”). Is there more? As the story starts, he stops them. Towards the end of the story, they stop him from walking out of their lives, perhaps for ever. The moment of desire leads to the moment of recognition and a life-changing encounter.

See Kieran’s exegetical commentary on today’s readings at his Tarsus website.

A Gospel within the Gospel

The dawning understanding of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus is like a gospel within the gospel, and is often used as a summary of what Christian life is all about. For these disciples on the road, all they had hope for seemed to be over and gone. For the previous few years life had been exciting, in the vibrant, inspirational company of Jesus, the prophet and healer. It is unfair to blame them, but they just hadn’t grasped a great deal of what Jesus had said. We can empathise with them, because mostly we too forget or we fail to take seriously the promises of the Lord. He promised that he would be there for us, that he would never abandon us in the storm, that he would walk every step of the road with us, and that he would bring us safely through the desert and the Red Sea of death into the Promised Land of the Father.

Significantly. Jesus uses the Holy Scriptures as his way of enlightening them. The Bible is the revealing word of God, that reveals the very heart of God. The words of scripture are not at all like the passing opinions in our daily newspapers or other media outlets. The word of God is empowered as by an electric current, inspired and shot through with the Spirit of God. With God’s word comes the power to respond to that word, and to carry it out. Because of various factors, the study of scripture was not greatly emphasised or appreciated in Catholic circles. It was seen as more of a Protestant thing, and it was something that ordinary lay persons could not be trusted with interpreting properly. That trend, thankfully, is now reversed, and this is an important part of the whole process of church renewal.

We notice how they recognised Jesus in the breaking of bread. Breaking of bread among friends was a living symbol of friendship and belonging. What was special about the way Jesus broke the bread is something at which I can only hazard a guess. It must have been the whole atmosphere of self-giving that he invested in the act that revealed to them who he really was. There was a level of sincerity, of giving, of sharing, of sacredness that must have been unique to Jesus, and it must have been something they had experienced on previous occasions. This unique something touched their deepest hungers, and the nourishment provided was no longer just a physical thing. It was food that required them to open their hearts as well as their mouths to receive.

Life is a winding, multi-stage journey made up of many smaller journeys. It is a wonderful gift of God’s Spirit to have the sense of being accompanied on the journey, of being led by the Spirit, of having a sense of direction in life. All of this is only possible through my own personal yes, and my willingness to be open to the accompanying presence of the Lord. “You’ll never walk alone when you walk with God” is an important truth. The only real sin for the Christian is not to have hope. Because of Jesus we already have the victory. We are a risen people, a people of power, and a people to whom Jesus has entrusted full authority over all the power of the evil one. Again, all of this makes no difference whatever, unless I personally take possession of what Jesus offers me and makes possible for me. Again and again and again I am called on to repeat my own personal YES of trust and commitment. The response the Lord is most seeking is my YES of here and now.

Lighting a fire in the heart

José Antonio Pagola

Two of Jesus’ disciples are leaving Jerusalem. They walk along sadly and brokenhearted. The hope that they had placed in Jesus has been extinguished in their hearts when they saw him die on the cross. But they keep thinking about him anyway. They can’t forget him. Was it all a dream? While they go along talking and discussing all they’ve been through, Jesus comes by and starts walking with them. But the disciples don’t recognize him. The Jesus in whom they had trusted so much and whom they have loved passionately perhaps, now seems to be a stranger.

When Jesus joins in on their conversation the two walkers listen to him at first with surprise, but little by little something awakens in their hearts. They don’t know exactly what’s happening. Later on they will say: «Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures?».

The walkers feel drawn by Jesus’ words. The moment arrives when they need his company. They don’t want to let him leave: «Stay with us». During the meal, they will have their eyes opened and will recognize him. This is the great message of the story: when we welcome Jesus as a companion on the journey, his words can awaken in us the hope we lost.

In recent years, many people have lost faith in Jesus. Little by little he has become someone strange and unknown to them. All that they know about him is what they can reconstruct in partial and fragmentary ways based on what they have heard from preachers and catechists. Yes, the Sunday homily fulfills a vital role, but it clearly is not enough. In its current usage, in face of people sitting quietly, not voicing their concerns and problems, it cannot regenerate the floundering faith of so many who seek to meet Jesus, sometime without even knowing that’s what they want.

Isn’t it time for us to develop, outside of the context of the Sunday Liturgy, a new and different space to listen together to Jesus’ Gospel? Why not get together – laity and priests, women and men, convinced Christians and people interested in the faith – to listen, share, dialogue and welcome Jesus’ Gospel? We need to give the Gospel the chance to enter into direct, immediate contact with the problems, crises, fears and hopes of people today, with all its transforming power. It may soon be too late to recover in our midst the original freshness of the Gospel. But today it’s still possible.


A life-changing encounter

The Emmaus story is a living paradigm for Christian discipleship. It strongly suggests that if we travel life’s journey with others, sharing our faith and our doubts with them, Christ will be with us, opening our minds to the truth. Just as he gave them deeper insight, so he does for all who listen to him. His promise remains, “I am with you, always!” In those early years they also had many proofs of his powerful presence, as Acts illustrates by various miracle stories. Today’s is told with great satisfaction, dramatising Peter’s healing powers when he called on Jesus’ name. Not only is the crippled man cured, he jumps up, begins to walk about, and then enters the temple with them, “leaping and praising God.” The people’s awe and amazement gives Peter a chance to explain the source of his healing gift: he has it from the risen Christ, now more even powerfully effective than he was during his mortal life.

We are all on an Emmaus journey, a camino or pilgrimage of faith. We may be perplexed by events in our own lives, disappointments, loss of a job, failure, collapse of a relationship, shattered dreams, betrayal by friends. We are certainly very, very deeply disturbed by things that are happening in our own Church. We are deeply disturbed by the lack of peace in our world, the injustices of society, worries about the future. Everything, indeed, may seem very, very dark. And we may feel as helpless and as hopeless as those two disciples did.
If so, we need community. We cannot fight depression alone. We cannot make sense of things alone. We need to lean on one another for support. We need to search the Scriptures together to see what answers they may have for us. And then we can find ways to share this good news.

Seeing the city in a new light

We tend to walk away from situations and places that have painful associations for us. Sometimes that can be the right thing to do, but perhaps not always. Two disciples were walking away from a Jerusalem which now had very negative associations for them. It was just outside the walls of Jerusalem that their revered teacher and leader was crucified. Jerusalem was the city that killed all the hopes they had invested in Jesus. They wanted out of it as quickly as possible, seeing no future for themselves in that city.

As things turned out, Jerusalem was more than the city where Jesus was executed; it was also where he was raised from the dead and where the risen Lord would pour out the missionary Spirit upon his friends. The risen Lord walked with them to help them to see that there was more to Jerusalem than they realized. It is often the case in our own lives that the places we try to get away from, when we see them as dreary and dark are the very places where the seeds of new life are to be found, and where God is mysteriously but powerfully at work in the darkness. [MH]

Saint Pius V, pope

Antonio Ghislieri (1504-1572) from Bosco, Lombardy, entered the Dominican order where, after ordination, he taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years. A friar of noted austerity, in the late 1550s he acted as inquisitor of the faith for all Christendom. In this role he defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On being elected pope (1566) proclaimed the supremacy of the Holy See over the civil power. In pastoral charity he visited hospitals, washed the feet of the poor, and banished luxury from his court. He worked with his friend Charles Borromeo to reform the clergy, obliged bishops to reside in their dioceses, and cardinals to lead lives of greater simplicity. Pius V enforced the the discipline of the Council of Trent and supported the missions of the New World.


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