Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

“The Emmaus Disciples” by Abraham Bloemaert, 1622
Reading 1: Acts 3:1-10
Commentary on Acts 3:1-10
This dramatic cure of the lame beggar is the first miracle worked by the Apostles and begins a series of events that place the disciples in the footsteps of Jesus. "'This cure,' says St John Chrysostom, 'testifies to the resurrection of Christ, of which it is an image. [...] Observe that they do not go up to the temple with the intention of performing a miracle, so clear were they of ambition, so closely did they imitate their Master' (Hom, on Acts, 8)."[4]
In this first action, the beggar is cured in the name of Jesus and immediately he is led into the temple area. The symbolism here is Jesus heals us and leads us to faith. The miraculous cure also serves a secondary purpose. In addition to demonstrating the power of God’s intense love invoked through the name of Jesus, it also serves to draw a large crowd to hear the kerygmatic discourse of St. Peter which follows.
CCC: Acts 3:1 584; Acts 3:9 2640
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R. (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Commentary on Ps 105:1-2, 3-4,6-7, 8-9
The song of praise exhorts us to praise the Lord constantly and to remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac. We praise him also for the new covenant in Jesus, for which the Son of God became the sealing sacrifice.  It emphasizes the saving power of the name of the Lord.  In using the name of God, the speaker implicitly gives glory to God for the blessings that follow.
CCC: Ps 105:3 30
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
Commentary on Lk 24:13-35
This story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is only found in Luke’s Gospel. There is a mention in Mark (Mark 16;12) that is vague but probably refers to this event. The actual location of Emmaus is not known, but it is estimated that it was between 7 and 18 miles from Jerusalem. The focus of the story is the unrecognized Jesus (similar: in John 20:11-18, Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener).  Jesus interprets scripture and then he is recognized in the breaking of the bread (the Eucharistic reference).
“In the course of their conversation with Jesus, the disciples' mood changes from sadness to joy; they begin to hope again, and feel the need to share their joy with others, thus becoming heralds and witnesses of the risen Christ.”[5]
CCC: Lk 24:13-49 1094; Lk 24:13-35 1329, 1347; Lk 24:15 645, 659; Lk 24:17 643; Lk 24:21 439; Lk 24:22-23 640; Lk 24:25-27 112, 601; Lk 24:26-27 572, 652; Lk 24:26 555, 710; Lk 24:27 555, 2625; Lk 24:30 645, 1166; Lk 24:31 659
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were almost assuredly giving up.  They had just seen the Lord, for whom they had such high hopes, crucified and killed by the Romans.  Now they were headed toward Emmaus for some unknown reason.  It has been speculated that they were going home or perhaps, fearing further violence against Jesus’ supporters, they were simply running away.  Whatever their reasons might have been, the most likely purpose for their trip was to be headed away from the Lord rather than toward him.
The story tells us that Jesus joined them as they walked and, after hearing them explain how they perceived events that had taken place, he proceeded to break open the Law and Prophets, citing all of those instances that predicted what had unfolded in Jerusalem three days prior (remember, this is taking place at almost the same time as Mary is finding the empty tomb).  Intellectually the disciples must have been thinking all of this made sense (in retrospect they would look back and remember how that revelatory conversation had caused their hearts to burn).
Still they did not recognize him until he recreated the Eucharist for them at the meal.  How blessed they were, who were shown Jesus in the Eucharist in such a way.  And how sad it is that many of us today have failed to recognize Jesus, even when we are told countless times that Jesus left us his body and blood in just that way.
The beauty of the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is that we can all put ourselves in the place of the disciples.  Sometimes, on that dusty road, we are frightened and we feel like we don’t know it is the Lord who is walking with us.  At times we are very close to Jesus and at times we feel like those disciples must have felt at the beginning of their journey; that they were running away.  We place ourselves at different times and in different places on that road, and pray that we always recognize the Lord in those that travel with us.  We most especially pray that in this Easter Week we recognize the Lord in the bread and wine, his Risen Body broken for us.

[1] The picture used is “The Emmaus Disciples” by Abraham Bloemaert, 1622
[4] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp 737
[5] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 513

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