Third Sunday of Easter – Year A

by Fr W. Nkomo

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First Reading Acts 2: 14, 22-28
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:17-21
Gospel Luke 24: 13-35

The Road of Hope: Jesus is always besides us to give us hope, to warm our hearts and to urge us on our journey of faith.The story we heard today in the gospel of Luke reveals to us; Jesus our Risen Lord who understands that when we are caught up in our little world of discouragement and depression we do not bother to look out to see the brokenness of others. Jesus who understands that in our anger, frustration and unexpressed feelings we need someone who would listen to us talk and offer us a message of hope, of comfort and of life. This is the experience of the two disciples of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. We all know of a family member, a friend, a colleague, a loved one or a distant neighbour who is going through a rough patch and in need of a message of hope. Jesus is one who makes himself available to us in order for us to be available to others.

What has really happened to Cleopas and his companion? These two surely witnessed the suffering that Jesus had gone through before his death, they therefore have the picture of the crucified Christ hanging on the cross which could be the reason why Luke says “their eyes were prevented from recognising him.” They would easily recognise him if he was covered in sores from the beating and spittle’s as they last saw him. The picture of the crucifixion was still fresh in their mind. That is not all; they were disappointed and discouraged by him whom they had thought will fulfil their hope in the messiah. This is evident in their response to Jesus’ question “what are you discussing as you walk along,” they replied saying that “we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” The apparent ignorance of Jesus about the things that had taken place in Jerusalem appears to open up the fresh wound.

Jesus’ response to their discouragement , shattered hope and depression takes me to the experience that one goes through in the sacrament of reconciliation in which the episode of the prodigal son meeting the merciful father is repeated “this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24). Jesus is aware that the force of his death on the cross, had not only killed him but had also killed the hope in them. Without judging them Jesus gets close to them, listens to their reality, and feels their problems. Jesus knows that they too need a resurrection.

Jesus uses two things which they know, to restore their hope and give them courage: the scriptures and the communal gesture of sharing. He uses the Bible and the history of people to illuminate the problem which made the two disciples suffer, and to clarify the situation in which they are living. He opens to them the whole plan of God to indicate to them that in the midst of all these painful experiences God is still in control. He walks with them as a companion who comes to help and to remind them of what they had forgotten. Yet even then, their eyes are still prevented from seeing Him. Their hearts however are burning inside them.

Jesus joins them for supper after they had invited him to sleep over. At the breaking of the bread, the communal gesture of sharing, their eyes are opened and they recognise Him. At the moment in which both recognise Jesus, they are born anew, and Jesus disappears. Jesus leaves them because he knows that they have also resurrected and they will do exactly that which they had been taught by him whilst he was with them. Risen, the disciples at that very moment without worrying that it was already evening they set out and returned to Jerusalem where they joined the company of the gathered disciples. They now have no fear and their hope is restored.

To them to resurrect meant to go back to Jerusalem. The two of them, courageously, get back on the road to go to Jerusalem, where the same forces of death, which had killed Jesus and had killed their hope, continue to be active. But, now everything has changed. If Jesus is alive, then there is in Him and with Him a stronger power than that which killed Him.
This encounter with Jesus gives them a new vision and the first reading gives an account of a powerful witness of Peter who uses the experiences of Jesus’ death and the power of his cross to call people to faith in Jesus the risen one. There is no more flight, unbelief, despair nor fear of those in power. Truly, everything has changed. Death has now resulted in life and the bad news of the death of Jesus, has turned into the Good News of his Resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters today’s gospel reading teaches us that if we hold on to our faith in God, Jesus will eventually appear to us, most likely in unexpected ways, places or people. We are invited to reflect on how our anger, frustration and unexpressed feelings prevent us from seeing the Lord who comes to offer us hope, comfort and new life. Today may we pray for the grace to trust that the risen Lord will come to us during our time of need and believe that he is with us always.