The Resurrection of the Lord
Gospel of St. Luke24:13-35
“Their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” What a wonderful description for this glorious Easter Sunday. I hope your day has been a day of joy, of celebration, and of renewal. A celebration of new birth, of life, of victory over sin and death.
As a community we celebrated and continue to celebrate those who entered our fellowship last night at the Easter Vigil. Individually, we are celebrating the end of our Lenten penitential journey. Some of us, for example, may be celebrating the wonderful taste and satisfaction of a hot cup of coffee, flavored ever so subtlety with a dollop of sweet hazelnut cream, just enough to give that dark, layered, deep color a gentle hint of blonde. Other’s of you too had opportunity to celebrate similar simple pleasures as well… and we are thankful and full of joy.
We also find additional reason to celebrate as we discovered in this afternoon’s Gospel. It is there where we read about the encounter the disciples on the road to Emmaus had with our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. We see in their encounter his desire to walk and to fellowship with us. His desire to make himself known and to bring us into relationship with him and with one another.
The details of this encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus is not unfamiliar to us; yet, its message may sometimes escape us as we too sometimes have difficulty recognizing Jesus. The challenge we have this day is to put ourselves on that road… the road to Emmaus.
Emmaus is West of Jerusalem which meant those two disciples were traveling towards the setting sun. Their chosen path leading them not towards the sun rise, the dawn of a new day, but rather towards the sunset, the ending of their story. They were leaving Jerusalem, which for them, had once held promise, and was now the very source of their discouragement and disappointment; the city was where their hope had perished. They were leaving the community of believers. The very people with whom they had previously traveled difficult miles, endured long hours, and suffered the heat of the day and the cold of the night. They were abandoning the very people with whom they had witnessed the miracles which inspired their faith; and with whom they grew in hope and joy. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were not just walking… they were walking away.
We read about their disappointment, frustration, and discouragement regarding the events they had just witnessed in Jerusalem. We read about their inability to understand the significance and the promise fulfilled in the resurrection. Even as Jesus accompanied them along the road, his words and his teaching and instruction caused a “burning within their hearts”, yet, the Gospel is very clear, they were prevented from recognizing him. How sad it must have been that first Easter to have travelled the same road alongside Jesus and not recognize him. How sad it is this many years later to travel a similar road and not recognize him.
The road to Emmaus, for all its disappointment is in truth a wonderful illustration of God’s love for us. As Jesus encountered these two disciples, so too does he encounter us. Jesus walks alongside us, as he did with them, when we are discouraged and down. Talks to us, as he did with them, through his word and with reason, helping us to know him and understand him. Jesus is just as patient with us, as he proved to those two disciples when he walked seven miles… in the wrong direction…, when we lose our way and are engulfed in doubt and despair. As he did with those two disciples, when light began to fade and the day turned to night, Jesus waited but only for an invitation, as he does so patiently with us. And when we have opened ourselves to him, as did to those two disciples, he too will open our eyes and allows us to recognize him. Recognize him in the Eucharist; in the Sacraments of the Church; in his Word; in each other.
Those two down-trodden, discouraged, and dismayed disciples were no longer. For once they recognized Jesus, the moment their eyes had been opened, they immediately changed their direction, hurried back to Jerusalem, rejoined their community, and bore witness to the work that he had done in their lives. They celebrated, in true joy, the wondrous grace and mercy of God. The fulfillment of a promise that did not end at Calvary, on the cross, but continues to this day in the lives of each one of us. The promise that Jesus want us to know him, to recognize him, to fellowship with him at his table.
We have gathered here this day to celebrate not only the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, but also his presence here with us. His presence here in the Eucharist. His presence here inside each of us. His presence here in each other. Invite Jesus this day to open your eyes and reveal to himself to you, that you too may be filled with joy, and his love… one for another.