3rd. Sunday Of Easter-Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“They Recognized Him At The Breaking Of Bread.”
The message that Luke is trying to pass on to the disciples of our time is that we too can meet the Risen Lord when we hear the Word of God and take part in the “Breaking of Bread”
We too must try to light the fire in the hearts of the members of our community by spreading the ‘Good News’ of the ‘New Life’ that the Risen Lord gives us.
Do we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the Bread?
The First and Second Readings draw the attention to the need to have recourse to the Scriptures if we want to understand the sense of what happened to Jesus and what happens to us every day.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Introductory Note before reading the Commentaries:
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of wisdom to understand the meaning of the messages that the Lord has for each one of us. These commentaries, which are prepared by various priests who have become scholars of the Scriptures, are provided as a brief guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
Acts 2:14, 22b-33.
Today, as on Easter Sunday, the first reading is taken from one of the sermons of Peter. Read again the first reading of Easter Sunday (Acts 10:38) and compare it to what one of the Emmaus disciples says in today’s Gospel. You will see how the life of Jesus is always presented in the same words. Why this coincidence? It is simply because these words are not the exact recording of the words of Peter or Cleophas, but a summary of the teachings of the early Church on Jesus. Perhaps this was a short text that each Christian had to learn by heart before receiving Baptism.
What scandalized those who listened to the story of Jesus was the way his life ended. Why should a just person die that way? Peter answers that the death of Christ was part of the plan of God (23). What for us is humiliation and infamy is for God a victory. Peter here uses a very strong expression: God “freed him (Jesus) from the pangs of Hades”, meaning he forced death to give birth.
In the old times, people thought that a child while in its mother’s womb was tied to her by laces, laces that were undone at birth. Jesus was bound up in the womb of death, but God intervened to free him and raise him to life (22-23).
Peter with the ‘Eleven’ addresses an audience of Jews in and around Jerusalem. He accuses them of rejecting Jesus even though Jesus was “a man attested to you by God, with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know.”
Peter then explains to his audience that Jesus was indeed their long-awaited Messiah. He quotes the words of Psalm 16: “I saw the Lord always before me … therefore my heart was glad. …For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption.”
Peter employs proof from Scripture, the only means to convince a Jewish audience. This speech and others in Acts help us understand Jesus’ meaning when he said: “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Lk 24:44).”
Psalm 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11.
The Psalm is a traditional song of the Levites, the tribe that possessed no land (Jos 18:7) but had God alone as their “portion and cup.” Its reference to “my body not being left among the dead” makes it appropriate for Easter. It is a song of absolute confidence in God: “I said to YHWH, ‘You are Lord … with [You] at my right hand I shall never be shaken’. Therefore rejoice my heart.” It is precisely God’s victory over death that the psalmist is singing about: ‘for you have not abandoned my life to Sheol, and you did not grant your faithful to see the Pit’.
1 Peter 1:17-21.
The passage from 1 Peter begins and ends with a description of God the Father. He is a God who will judge the world at the end of time and will require an account even of those (like some of us) in self-imposed exile in a pagan world. He is a God love of mercy who raised Jesus from the dead. God’s plan in Christ began before the world (Col 1:15) and through the precious blood of Christ; we were ransomed from the power of sin. Peter reminds his fellow Christians that they are in a time of exile; that is, they (and all of us) are pilgrims. We are all on the way to God. To travel steadily and well, we must always keep in mind the ransom Jesus paid for us, his death on a Cross. The ‘paschal lamb’, white (pure) without blemishes, that the people of Israel used to sacrifice during the Easter celebrations, the lamb whose blood had saved Israel in Egypt, was the only an image of Jesus. Christ is the ‘true lamb’ without spot; it is his blood that saves people from evil. With these entreaties Peter wants to urge the newly baptized to live a holy life, even when it is not easy, so as not to render the sacrifice of Christ valueless.Three thousand people heard Peter’s message and were transformed by the ‘Good News’ that day. How many of us will feel the urgency of transformation in our time?
The Gospel, too, contains a surprise. Two disciples of Jesus were on their way to Emmaus after the shattering experience of the Crucifixion. A stranger joined them. They told him about their dashed hopes concerning Jesus. They admitted that some of the women of their group had gone to the tomb where Jesus was placed and found it empty. There, angels told them that Jesus was alive and well, but this did not restore the faith of the disciples, because they did not see him. The stranger (Jesus) then upbraided 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?” On reaching home, the two disciples recognized Jesus as he blessed and broke Bread with them. They were astounded, and even more so when he disappeared. Hastily they headed back to Jerusalem to tell others about their experience. Upon arriving there they found that Jesus has already appeared to the Eleven.
We have in the story of Emmaus all the elements of the Eucharistic celebration: first of all “the entrance of the celebrant, then the “Liturgy of the Word” with the “Homily”. Their conversation on the road is like the Liturgy of the Word in which they confronted their understanding of the Messiah with God (Lk 24:16-27). This was followed by the “Breaking of Bread”. The ‘Breaking of Bread’ cannot take place without the Liturgy of the Word. The combination of both Word and the Eucharist opened up the eyes of the disciples at communion time and they recognized that the Risen Lord is present among them. Luke is telling us that we too can meet the Risen Lord. Where? In our community celebration, we can see him through the sacramental signs. As we recognize him … Lo, he is no longer visible. Once our eyes are opened we begin to understand that it is not only a story about Cleophas and the other disciple but it is our own story too. It is also the experience of our Christian community as we journey through the period after the Resurrection. We all have different images of God and would like God to fit into those images. We become disillusioned with God when he does not intervene in our lives when we want him to.
The Word of God challenges our human expectations. It helps us to come to a better understanding of who God truly is and how he intervenes in our lives and in human history. When we share our insights into his Word and through Prayer and are nourished by Jesus in the Sacraments, he will gradually bring his ‘Light’ into our lives and into the world around us. When God gives us his ‘Light’ he always pushes us to share with others what we have experienced. Faith in Jesus is a many-sided relationship. To be in a relationship with Jesus is to be in a relationship with all things good – past and present, and to come. We are constantly and pleasantly surprised by Jesus, just as the disciples of Emmaus were.
The Risen Lord is with us as he was with the Emmaus disciples: in the people we meet on our daily road of life; in his word, which can set our hearts aflame; at the tables of prayer, especially the Eucharist. The Emmaus story dramatizes the actions of a Sunday Mass. People on the road of life gather in the memory of the Lord Jesus. They pray for forgiveness and failures during the week. Going away from Jerusalem indicates loss of direction in our pilgrimage. In many ways we have failed to recognise the Lord. Then the Lord brings his Word to answer our foolishness (lack of belief). We are drawn into the celebration of the death and Resurrection of the Lord. We recognise him in the Bread blessed and broken. Given the ‘Bread of Life’ we are sent out to love and to serve our Lord. Our eyes are once more set towards Jerusalem and our lives witness the presence and power of the Risen Lord.
This is how we meet the Risen Christ – through a kind word to a neighbour, by an unselfish invitation of help to a stranger, in the “Word” and in the “Breaking of the Bread”, he comes unexpectedly. He is not always recognized. He is glad to be invited into our lives, but he forces himself on no one. To see him, we must be alert to the needs of others. He waits for us in the guise of a needy stranger or a suffering friend or under the appearances of Bread and Wine. Only the through the eyes of faith and love can we pierce the veil, but one moment of vision is worth a lifetime of blessings.
What prevents us from having a stronger faith in the presence
of the Lord in our lives?
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to guide us in the ‘Way’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the
3rd Sunday of Easter Year A, we reflect on …
Mon… Peter’s point in the verses that we hear today in the first reading is that the Resurrection of Jesus is the identifying sign of his messiah-ship. Through a complex kind of ‘rabbinic’ argumentation, Peter relates the messianic prophesies to the life of Jesus. He demonstrates that Jesus is the successor promised to David, the Lord who is established at the right hand of God, the channel through which the Holy Spirit would be sent into the world and into our hearts.
Tues… Our passage shows Peter as the spokesperson for all the apostles addressing the full Jerusalem public. He first outlines the public career of Jesus. Jesus worked miracles as everybody knows, but was then killed by the populace who used the agency of the Romans for this purpose. God allowed this to happen because it was part of the ‘Divine Plan’. Now Jesus has risen from the dead so that we too may have new life.
Wed… In the scriptural argumentation that would demonstrate the meaning of the Resurrection, Peter quotes from Psalm 16. Here the author David speaks of seeing the Lord always, of dwelling in hope, of being liberated from decay and corruption, of having been shown the paths of life. Peter cannot be referring to David himself since we know that David died and he was not liberated from corruption.
Thur… God had promised David a messianic successor who he would have been able to foresee thanks to his prophetic gifts; it must be that David is referring to this successor as the one who would not see corruption (having risen from the dead). Peter concludes, “We ourselves have seen the Risen Christ”. Jesus is the Messiah that David looked to.
Fri… In the second reading, Peter reminds us that we are all pilgrims in a strange land; unlike those who choose their treasure from the offerings of this world – possessions, power and position, we Christians find our hope and claim our citizenship in the City of the Lamb.
Sat… The Emmaus story is pretty typical for religious types and many of us, we get caught up in Jesus-talk but we let Jesus slip away unseen from our midst. It is especially distressing for some Catholics, who in our commitment to the Eucharist have a daily opportunity to open our eyes in the breaking of the Bread and yet see little of his real presence. Do we truly recognize Jesus in the breaking of the ‘Bread’ and his presence in the Tabernacle or are we still separated by a veil?
Sun… The redemption of the Emmaus disciples comes in that they do recognize Jesus in the end and that their hearts burn with that communion even before their eyes can see or their minds can fully understand. Can we trust the language of fire as it speaks within us?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, may we too undergo and fully appreciate an ‘Emmaus’ experience: in the ‘Breaking of the Bread’ and prayers with our brothers and sisters, in the understanding of the truth in the Gospel and in Your messengers that we meet on our daily road to ‘New Life’. We pray Lord, that You set our hearts on fire.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.