Third Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 2:14,22-23; 1 Peter 16:1-2,5,7-11; Luke 24:13-35
Saint John Baptist de la Salle , April 23, 2023
The Camino de Santiago, or better known in English as "The Way of Saint James," or perhaps just "The Way," is a five-hundred-mile journey or pilgrimage across Europe, leading to the shrine of Saint James. Perhaps you know of someone who has made this pilgrimage, in all or in part. Just a few years ago, there was a movie called "The Way," starring Martin Sheen. It is well worth watching, and there is much to learn from this film. There are, of course, hundreds, if not thousands, of journeys and pilgrimages to find God. Today's Gospel also tells us a story about two people who are also on a journey, or a pilgrimage, to a town called Emmaus. As they travel, they prayerfully discuss the things that have happened in Jerusalem. In their reflective walk, their specific actions trace a journey of discipleship.
To begin, their actions show movement as they literally "walk the way" to Emmaus. Secondly, as they "walk the way," the two also "talk" and debate what has happened in the past few days. These two actions, "walking and talking," are repeated throughout today's Gospel. For this is our story as well, walking and talking with one another, in our search for Christ. When Jesus suddenly appears to his followers on "the way," he questions them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" The two appear disturbed by the stranger's ignorance and stop walking. These disciples have failed to recognize the risen Christ in their midst. They had been walking toward Emmaus and now had stopped completely. It is not clear why these two people fail to recognize Jesus before them. The text reads, "Jesus himself drew near to them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." The reasons why they do not recognize Jesus really don't matter, but they do seem to be a part of the experience of discipleship. It seems that all disciples fall into the pattern of not recognizing the risen Jesus. Perhaps we all fail to recognize Jesus simply because of spiritual weakness, and this is a sign that we must continue to mature as we go along "the way" and resist the refusal to believe.
Things change for everyone who shares a meal with Jesus. "When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again." "With that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight." Now, with open eyes, they can reflect on the day's events, their walking and talking, and what they first missed, but now recognize as the presence of Christ. The two were walking in the wrong direction, but they were on the right path. We two may be walking in the wrong direction, but we are on the right path. We are in Church on this Third Sunday of Easter, trying to get to where we want to go. This Sunday's Gospel teaches Christians to keep walking and talking within the community, to keep moving along the way with others. A man named Cleopas is named in this scene, but the other disciple remains anonymous. The anonymous disciple, of course, is all of us who desire to be on "the way" with Christ. With time and a daily habit of reflection, our own eyes might be opened. We might even be able to recognize Christ in our midst.