Third Sunday of Easter – A

 

 

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And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer based on the Road to Emmaus

Our eyes are kept from recognizing you’

Open our eyes, Lord.

Without the gift of your revelation,

our eyes are kept from recognizing you.

Appear before us, suddenly, unexpectedly, in all your glory.

So that we, too, may proclaim to a world in despair,

that we have seen the risen Lord.

Nathan Bierma, inspired by a sermon on Luke 24 by John Witvliet.

COLLECT

May your people exult for ever, O God,

in renewed youthfulness of spirit,

so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,

we may look forward in confident hope

to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 2:14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,

raised his voice, and proclaimed:

You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.

Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

You who are Israelites, hear these words.

Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God

with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,

which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.

This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,

you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.

But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,

because it was impossible for him to be held by it.

For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,

with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;

my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,

because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,

nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.

You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you

about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,

and his tomb is in our midst to this day.

But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him

that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,

he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,

that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld

nor did his flesh see corruption.

God raised this Jesus;

of this we are all witnesses.

Exalted at the right hand of God,

he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father

and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 547 Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.1

CCC 597 The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pentecost.2 Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders.3 Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”, a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence.4 As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:

… [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. .. [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.5

CCC 599 Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: “This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”6 This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.7

CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 8 9 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,10 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”11 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.12

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down to “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.13 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:14 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”15 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.16

CCC 648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.17 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power18 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”19 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.20 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.21 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.22 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.23

CCC 731 On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.24

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.25 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”26

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.27 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,28 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.29 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.30 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.31

1 Acts 2:22; cf. Lk 7:18-23.

2 Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; I Th 2:14-15.

3 Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17.

4 Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6.

5 NA 4.

6 Acts 2:23.

7 Cf. Acts 3:13.

8 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.

9 Acts 2:24.

10 Is 53:8.

11 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.

12 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.

13 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.

14 Cf. Ps 89:49; I Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.

15 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.

16 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.

17 Rom I 3-4; cf. Acts 2:24.

18 Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16.

19 Mk 16:19.

20 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

21 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

22 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

23 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

24 Cf. Acts 2:33-36.

25 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

26 LG 7.

27 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

28 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

29 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

30 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

31 Cf. Acts 2:38.

APPLICATION

Easter is the season of hope, of encouragement and of consolation for every true Christian. It recalls to his mind the fact of Christ’s victory over death–a victory which in God’s eternal plan was not for him alone, but for all men who believe in him and try to follow him. The true Christian knows that his bodily or physical death is but a necessary prelude to the new and unending life God has prepared for him. The few verses of St. Peter’s sermon, preached to the Jews in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost Day, bring this consoling thought to our minds, and it is a thought which should influence and direct our way of living every day of our lives.

It so affected St. Peter’s audience that day that 3,000 joined the Apostles (2:41), and this was an audience which up to then paid little or no heed to the “man” who had been crucified, some seven weeks earlier on Mount Calvary.

How much greater should not its impact be on us, who already know who Christ really was, and who know the meaning his resurrection has for us?

However, let us not forget, that in the audience, too, were men who shut their ears and their minds to the facts told by St. Peter, men who continued to oppose Christ and revile him, and who did their utmost to put an end to his faithful followers. But in vain. Christ had triumphed, the Church he had founded would triumph, and millions of his faithful followers down through the centuries, have entered the eternal kingdom which his life, death and resurrection opened to them.

While we have still today, thank God, millions who are striving to follow Christ and to make their way to heaven, we have millions too (apart from those who through no fault of theirs have not heard his “good news,” and for whom God will provide), millions who, like those unrepentant Jews of Jerusalem, shut their ears and their minds to the facts of the Incarnation and to its relevance to them.

Death, even eternal death, has, they proclaim, no fears for them; yet in their every action they are proving their love of life by their attachment to the very limited comforts and consolations which the fleeting life of this earth can give them. Are they not in their theories contradicting their own very actions, and contradicting the natural desire to continue living–a desire which the Creator instilled in every intelligent being, and which God arranged to satisfy, through the merciful mystery of the Incarnation?

Charity, true love of God and neighbor, demands that we pray frequently and fervently that God will open the eyes of our fellowman to the light of the true Christian faith, that they too may profit by the Incarnation, that they too may rise to a life of eternal happiness. As for ourselves, let each one of us be another St. Peter in our own small way, by letting the light of faith, which God has given us, shine brightly before all men in our words and especially in our deeds.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Lord, you will show us the path of life.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;

I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”

O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,

you it is who hold fast my lot.

Lord, you will show us the path of life.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;

even in the night my heart exhorts me.

I set the LORD ever before me;

with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Lord, you will show us the path of life.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,

my body, too, abides in confidence;

because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,

nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

Lord, you will show us the path of life.

You will show me the path to life,

abounding joy in your presence,

the delights at your right hand forever.

Lord, you will show us the path of life.

READING II

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1 Pt 1:17-21

Beloved:

If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially

according to each one’s works,

conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,

realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,

handed on by your ancestors,

not with perishable things like silver or gold

but with the precious blood of Christ

as of a spotless unblemished lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world

but revealed in the final time for you,

who through him believe in God

who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,

so that your faith and hope are in God.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”1 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.2 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”3

1 I Pt 1:18-20.

2 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

3 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

APPLICATION

St. Peter’s message to us today is this: we are sons of God because of his infinite mercy in sending Christ to us as our brother. So we can rightly call God our “Father.” But we must behave as true, loyal sons, during our “time of exile” on this earth, for our merciful Father is also the absolutely just God who will judge each one of us “impartially according to our deeds” when we lay down our earthly life.

The fact that we are adopted sons of God, and thus co-heirs of Christ to the eternal kingdom, is the foundation, the title-deed, to our future possession of the promised inheritance. But we must live our lives in accordance with the conditions laid down in those title-deeds. We must follow Christ all through our earthly life if we are to join him in the eternal kingdom.

Our Lord himself put this very emphatically and clearly when he said : “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). This does not mean that life must be one long martyrdom, but it means that we must keep our human passions and unlawful earthly desires under control. Millions of Christians in the past have done this, and nobody could say they lived a miserable life on this earth. There are millions of Christians today who are keeping the laws of God and living as loving and grateful “sons of God,” and they should be and are the happiest men and women on earth.

Look around and see the non-practicing Christians; they have more than they can use of the wealth of this world, but they are unhappy because they want more. The sixth and seventh commandments have been long since ignored and forgotten by them, but the troubles of body and mind brought on by their illicit actions remain with them all their earthly lives. They spend their energies striving for financial and political power, only to find they have been chasing rainbows. They may live in luxury, but do they live in peace with their own consciences? They can hardly refuse to admit that one day soon they must leave all they had spent their life acquiring; and their being buried in a gold casket or coffin, in a marble vault, will not guarantee them any future happiness.

Every good Christian realizes what St. Peter tells us today: this life is but a period of exile. We are on our way to our true home, and any trials we have to meet on the way are examinations we have to pass in order to graduate into that everlasting home. But the crown of glory which awaits us is worth a thousand times more than all the crosses and trials this earthly life can inflict on us.

St. Peter reminds us, too, that it was not with gold or silver or any other earthly goods that this future life of happiness was bought for us, but by the life and sufferings of Christ, whom God had “destined before the foundation of the world” to be our mediator and Savior. God thought of us from all eternity–he is still thinking of us and of our true happiness. Surely, we have enough sense, and enough interest in our own welfare, to think of our own future and to live the few years of exile as true, adopted sons of God, and thus make ourselves worthy to be with our heavenly Father for all eternity!

GOSPEL

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Lk 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,

two of Jesus’ disciples were going

to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,

and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.

And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,

Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,

but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

He asked them,

What are you discussing as you walk along?”

They stopped, looking downcast.

One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,

Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem

who does not know of the things

that have taken place there in these days?”

And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”

They said to him,

The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,

who was a prophet mighty in deed and word

before God and all the people,

how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over

to a sentence of death and crucified him.

But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;

and besides all this,

it is now the third day since this took place.

Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:

they were at the tomb early in the morning

and did not find his body;

they came back and reported

that they had indeed seen a vision of angels

who announced that he was alive.

Then some of those with us went to the tomb

and found things just as the women had described,

but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!

How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things

and enter into his glory?”

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,

he interpreted to them what referred to him

in all the Scriptures.

As they approached the village to which they were going,

he gave the impression that he was going on farther.

But they urged him, “Stay with us,

for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table,

he took bread, said the blessing,

broke it, and gave it to them.

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,

but he vanished from their sight.

Then they said to each other,

Were not our hearts burning within us

while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem

where they found gathered together

the eleven and those with them who were saying,

The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”

Then the two recounted

what had taken place on the way

and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/043017.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.1

The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.2

CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.3 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.4

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;5 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”6 Christ, the “living Stone”,7 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.8

CCC 555 For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to “enter into his glory”.9 Moses and Elijah had seen God’s glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah’s sufferings.10 Christ’s Passion is the will of the Father: the Son acts as God’s servant;11 the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. “The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.”12

You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the Father.13

CCC 572 The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of “all the Scriptures” that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”14 Jesus’ sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was “rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes”, who handed “him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified”.15

CCC 601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of “the righteous one, my Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.16 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received”, St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.”17 In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant.18 Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God’s suffering Servant.19 After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.20

CCC 640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”21 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.22 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.23 The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.24 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.25

CCC 641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.26 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.27 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,28 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”29

CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.30 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”31) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.32 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”33

CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.34 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.35 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.36

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”37 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.38 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.39 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.40 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.41

CCC 710 The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises, which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification.42 In God’s plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,43 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.44 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,45 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”46

CCC 1166 “By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday.”47 The day of Christ’s Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day,” on which Christ after his “rest” on the great sabbath inaugurates the “day that the Lord has made,” the “day that knows no evening.”48 The Lord’s Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his banquet:49

The Lord’s day, the day of Resurrection, the day of Christians, is our day. It is called the Lord’s day because on it the Lord rose victorious to the Father. If pagans call it the “day of the sun,” we willingly agree, for today the light of the world is raised, today is revealed the sun of justice with healing in his rays.50

CCC 1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.51

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,52 above all at the Last Supper.53 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,54 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;55 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.56

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.57

CCC 1347 Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table “he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”58

CCC 2625 In the first place these are prayers that the faithful hear and read in the Scriptures, but also that they make their own – especially those of the Psalms, in view of their fulfillment in Christ.59 The Holy Spirit, who thus keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church’s life, sacraments, and mission. These formulations are developed in the great liturgical and spiritual traditions. The forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.

1 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46.

2 St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Ps. 21, 11; cf. Ps 22:14.

3 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.

4 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.

5 Cf Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.

6 Mt 16:18.

7 I Pt 2:4.

8 Cf. Lk 22:32.

9 Lk 24:26.

10 Cf. Lk 24:27.

11 Cf. Is 42:1.

12 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.

13 Byzantine Liturgy, Feast of the Transfiguration, Kontakion.

14 Lk 24:26-27,44-45.

15 Mk 8:31; Mt 20:19.

16 Is 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8 34-36; Acts 3:14.

17 1 Cor 15:3; cf. also Acts 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:22-23.

18 Cf. Is 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35.

19 Cf. Mt 20:28.

20 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45.

21 Lk 24:5-6.

22 Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15.

23 Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23.

24 Jn 20:2, 6, 8.

25 Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7.

26 Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31,42.

27 Cf Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18.

28 Cf I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32.

29 Lk 24:34, 36.

30 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.

31 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.

32 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.

33 Mk 16:14.

34 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.

35 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.

36 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.

37 Mk 16:19.

38 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

39 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

40 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

41 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

42 Cf. Lk 24:26.

43 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

44 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

45 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

46 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

47 SC 106.

48 Byzantine liturgy.

49 Cf. Jn 21:12; Lk 24:30.

50 St. Jerome, Pasch.: CCL 78, 550.

51 Cf. 1 Cor 11:20; Rev 19:9.

52 Cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 8:6, 19.

53 Cf. Mt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24.

54 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

55 Cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11.

56 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.

57 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.

58 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

59 Cf. Lk 24:27, 44.

APPLICATION

There are two thoughts that should sink into our minds on hearing this beautiful and most instructive incident which happened on that first Easter Sunday.

First, the loving kindness of Jesus to two disciples who had lost faith in him, because of his having failed, as they thought, to triumph over his enemies on that dreadful Good Friday. He followed them, like the Good Shepherd he was, and brought them back to the fold.

In the lives of many Christians, and today especially, in the lives of many he has chosen as special disciples, there are moments when the doings and sayings of some who claim to be “masters in Israel” may make them doubt if Christ is still what he claimed to be, if his demands on them are still obligatory and necessary. They are tempted to think Christianity was a human invention, that heaven is a figment of human imagination, that God is dead or paying no heed to them, and they are tempted to go back to the Emmaus of agnosticism or atheism.

The solution for their problem is that given by the risen Jesus to the disciples. What seemed a failure and a tragedy to the disciples was the triumph of God’s eternal plan for raising man up to sonship with God himself and an eternal inheritance. God has not failed; Christ has not failed; Christianity has not failed and never will, but there will always be weaklings among us who will fall by the wayside and try to get others to join them to boost their sagging morale. The second thought is closely connected with the first: it is a divine remedy for those who feel their faith growing weak. The two disciples recognized the risen Jesus “in the breaking of bread.” We have still the risen Christ present with us every time we join in the celebration of the Eucharist. He is not only at the table, the altar, with us, but in the bread he breaks for us through his ordained minister he is giving himself to us as our spiritual nourishment. He promised to do this (see Jn. 6) and he fulfilled his promise at the Last Supper when he gave the power and the command to his Apostles and their successors to celebrate the Eucharist for his people, for all time.

If we partake regularly and devoutly of this divine nourishment, our faith will be strong enough to resist any doubts our own weak, human minds, or the bad example of Godless surroundings, may cause to arise within us. Our renewed liturgy is a replica of the Emmaus event. We have first the liturgy of the word, in which God’s revelation is explained to us, and we then sit at table with our divine Lord–the Word of God made flesh–who gives himself to us under the form of human food–something which only a God, and a loving God, could do.

Christ has called us to be his followers and disciples. He has called us not because he needs us, but because we need him. He has prepared for us a heavenly banquet–a feast of joy and happiness which will last forever. The present eucharistic meal is the means he instituted to help us reach the new Jerusalem which is above. Let us use this means frequently and fervently, in it we shall, like the two disciples, recognize him as our loving, risen Savior and each time we receive him we will return full of the glad tidings that Jesus has risen and conquered death, not only for himself but for all men of goodwill.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Communion-of-the-Apostles2.jpg

Giving Form to Fellowship

The most beautiful portrayal of the way we are traveling is offered by Luke in the story of the disciples going to Emmaus. This is traveling together with Christ the living Word, who interprets for us the written word, the Bible, and turns that into the path, the path along which our heart starts to burn and thus our eyes are finally opened: Scripture, the true tree of knowledge, opens our eyes for us if at the same time we are eating of Christ, the tree of life. Then we become truly able to see, and then we are truly alive. Three things belong together on this path: the fellowship of the disciples, the Scriptures, and the living presence of Christ. Thus, this journey of the disciples to Emmaus is at the same time a description of the Church – a description of how knowledge that touches on God grows and deepens. This knowledge becomes a fellowship with one another; it ends up with the Breaking of the Bread, in which man becomes God’s guest and God becomes man’s host. Christ is not someone we can have for ourselves alone. He leads us, not just to God, but to each other. That is why Christ and the Church belong together, just as the Church and the Bible belong together. Giving actual form to this great fellowship in the concrete individual fellowships of diocese, of parish, of ecclesial movements, is and remains the central task of the Church, yesterday, today and tomorrow. It must become possible to experience this fellowship as a pilgrim fellowship with our cares, with the Word of God, and with Christ, and it has to lead us onward to the gift of the Sacrament.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may truly be wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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