Third Sunday of Easter
A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014

First Reading - Acts 2:14, 22-23
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
Second Reading - 1 Peter 1:17-21
Gospel - Luke 24:13-35

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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.  And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, 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?"  They stopped, looking downcast.  One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"  And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"  They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.  But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.  Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.  Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see." 

And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.  As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.  But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."  So he went in to stay 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. 

Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"  So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"  Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Have you ever had a really bad headache before?  One of those head-splitting, eye-piercing, nerve-testing headaches that consumes all your energy and makes you want to crawl into a ball and hide?  Iíve had those before as well.  Close relatives of migraine headaches.  Not as bad, but close.  I had one at Kingís dominion.  Now, I love, love, absolutely LOVE roller coasters.  But I had a KILLER headache one time.  One too many times on the Rebel Yell.  So I crawled along with the friends I was with, until I knew I could not take it any longer.  I went to the nearest shop, bought one of those travel packs of Excedrin, popped both pills in the mouth, sat by a bench, and . . . ahhhh . . . placebo effect.  Now I know, I had a REAL Excedrin pill, but I was feeling IMMEDIATELY better, 45 seconds after taking the medicine.  I donít think 45 seconds is enough time for the pill to get from my mouth to the bloodstream.  Placebo effect.  I have SUCH confidence in the Excedrin pill,  that I start to feel better even before it hits the bloodstream.  All right, Excedrin!

But then, confidence wasnít really high in the minds of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus . . . Jesus was killed . . . his tomb is now empty . . . how much confidence should we really have put in this man?  Luckily our Lord appears today to remind them and us, that He isnít gone.  The story we just heard in the Gospel, is actually VERY similar to what weíre doing right now.  So letís look one more time at this story.  The disciples are walking, forlorn.  Jesus appears and asks them whatís wrong.  They relate the mysterious challenges which have been in their lives up to this point.  Jesus gently but firmly reminds them, WAIT A MINUTE . . . these challenges shouldnít be so mysterious . . . just go to scripture, and see that is was there all along!  He unfolds the solution to the mystery through the Holy Word of God.  Just like we do at Mass. 

We begin by offering the Lord our weaknesses and sins at the beginning of Mass, begging for his pardon and mercy, so that He can heal all the brokenness of our lives.  What does He do next?  He brings us His Holy Word.  Friends, I know that I forget this all the time, so I just pass it onto you, we have just listened to the Word of God here at Mass.  We have come here with all our worries, our concerns, our tensions, our problems and challenges, our fears and sorrows . . . we come also with our triumphs, our joys, our happy moments and unforgettable days.  And so the words in this BOOK, touch upon EVERYTHING in our lives.  These words shed light on the mystery, they shed comfort for the sorrow, they make us grateful for the joy.  When we listen to Scripture at Mass, everything thatís happened this past week has greater meaning and purpose.  But, like those first disciples who needed a little help, our Lord helps shed the light.  And once weíve understood things a bit more, we realize one thing is certain Ė like those first disciples, we are hungry for something we havenít been able to find anywhere else this past week!

And so it is time to receive a type of food which nourishes us from the core of our being.  It is time to break bread with the one who knows that our desires are nothing less than infinite.  And so, Jesus satisfies this hunger in the breaking of the bread, both at Emmaus and at this Mass.  Like those first two disciples on the way, Jesus meets US here on the way of our own lives, whereby He gives us clarity and meaning, nourishment and strength and fulfillment, in ways that we canít find anywhere else.  And so I ask myself, I ask all of us here, I might let only 45 seconds pass by before I start to feel better with my ďmagic Excedrin,Ē because I have confidence that the medicine will do good things for me; but do I have the same confidence that receiving the Word of the Lord and His Eucharist will have an even GREATER effect on me?  If I let Excedrin have such a powerful effect on my being, why donít I let Communion have an even more powerful effect?  Perhaps I need to imitate those two disciples, Lord, and invite you more deeply into my life, so that this coming week will assuredly be better than the one before, so that I FEEL so much better than the week before, so that I walk with ever-growing confidence, sure in the knowledge, that you are always walking by my side.  Amen.

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