by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB
This third Sunday of Easter our Church cannot set aside the memory of Resurrection Day. She reaches into the treasury of Scriptures and from St. Luke draws on his Gospel of that solemn day. Luke does not hide the sorrow and confusion of Christ’s followers. He portrays two disciples heading away from the city disappointed and in disbelief. Our Church uses the account to reinforce our faith.
It is not wise to slur over the shaken faith of these two followers of Jesus. They thought, “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” Yet, it had all faded. The temple elite handed him over to be crucified. Three days passed. Some of his female followers went to his tomb early in the morning. It was empty, but according to them, they saw angels who said he was alive. This was too astounding for them to believe.
The person they met, not knowing it was Jesus, was not gentle with them. “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all the prophets spoke!” And their travel-mate proceeded to reveal to them from Moses, and possibly up to his own predictions of his suffering, death, and rising, that it was all true. Faith is a gift, and their hearts were ignited within them. Their dawning faith led them to invite Jesus to dine with them.
Brothers and sisters in God and the Lord Jesus, his beloved Son. We too have the empty tomb staring us in the face. We are bombarded with the malice and bewilderment of our day. We are surrounded with disbelief. Our Church has not forgotten Jesus and his Resurrection. Too often we forget. These are not years of faith. It is good for us to accept our own Scriptures and to allow them to awaken in us faith in God, in our Savior, and of the door to salvation and life eternal that Jesus won for us.
But the disciples on the way to Emmaus had Jesus. He set their hearts afire. We may accept the Scriptures, but that is history. It is not today, and they had Jesus, we do not. But we do! When did the disciples know it was Jesus? When they tasted not bread but now the sacrificed Body of Christ, after Jesus had looked to the Heavens in prayer and repeated his act of the Last Supper. Prayer. The Eucharist. To this day, they are the stepping stones to faith and heaven.