April 20, 2020
Introduction to the Mass
Two disciples left Jerusalem down-hearted and hopeless because Jesus had died. He appeared to them on the road and walked with them. At the meal when he blessed and shared the bread, their eyes were opened, and they recognised him. We can still meet Jesus in the words of Scripture and in the breaking of bread. Let us celebrate this Eucharist with faith in his presence.
Lord Jesus, you walked with your disciples and opened the Scriptures to them. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, you revealed yourself to them in the broken bread of the Eucharist. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you continue to reveal yourself to us in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread. Lord, have mercy
Headings for Readings
First Reading • (Acts 2:14,22-28). As leader of the Apostles, Peter proclaims the core of the Christian faith: the Jesus who died on the cross has been raised to new life and freed from the pangs of death.
Second Reading • (1 Pet 1:17-21). Jesus Christ is the one who leads us to God. His death rescued us from a useless way of life
Gospel • (Lk 24:35-48). Luke tells how Jesus appears to his disciples and opens their minds and hearts to understand the Scriptures.
Prayer of the Faithful
President • Confident that the Lord hears our cries for help and grants favours to those whom he loves, we make our prayers known in the Easter Spirit he has given us.
Readers • For all who follow Christ: that their faith in the resurrection of Jesus may deepen through celebrating the Eucharist.
For those who entered the Church through Baptism at the Easter Vigil: that they may deepen their faith by continuing to ponder on the words of the Gospel.
For Pope Francis: like Peter he may confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith.
For those who suffer in mind, body or spirit: that they may experience divine healing and new strength: we remember especially young people who may be tempted by the thought of suicide.
For those who have died recently [especially …] and all the dead whom we love: that God’s eternal light may shine on them.
President • O God of our salvation, your glory in creation brings joy to your people. Hear our prayers and grant us your all-powerful grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer
Through the Easter Spirit we have become the sons and daughters of God. With the trust and freedom of God’s children we say
Invitation to the Sign of Peace
As children of the God of peace, let us greet each other with a sign of love.
When he opened His disciples’ eyes, Jesus at once vanished. He removed his visible presence, and left but a memorial of himself. He vanished from sight that he might be present in a sacrament. In order to connect his visible presence with his invisible presence, he manifested himself for one instant to their open eyes; manifested himself, if I may so speak, while he passed from his hiding-place of sight without knowledge, to that of knowledge without sight.
(St John Henry Newman)
Commentary and Reflections
First Reading • (Acts 2:14,22-33). Peter, as leader of the apostles, proclaims the nucleus of the Christian faith: the Jesus who was killed on a cross has been raised to new life and freed from the pangs of death. Now raised to the heights by God´s right hand he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit who was promised and this Spirit is now being poured out on all mankind.
Jesus´s death on the cross, the great scandal for the Jews, was no more than the fulfilling of God´s plan of salvation, announced by the prophets. It was part of the ‘deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God’.
The great sign that this Jesus was the Messiah was his Resurrection from the dead, a fact which Peter presents in accordance with the sentiments of Psalm 15 our responsorial psalm. ‘For you will not leave my soul among the dead nor let your beloved know decay’. In Jesus we see the profound and hidden meaning of the Scriptures. The Resurrection is the sign that God confirms the work of Jesus and, as a result, proclaims him to be his victorious Messiah.
Responsorial Psalm • (Ps 15:1-2,5,7-11). Psalm 15, originally the prayer of one who knows that God will not allow him to decay, finds in Jesus its fulfilment. The Psalm was used by the apostles as a proof that the just will not be abandoned by God to decay in the grave. We today believe that this fidelity and mercy of God extends from generation to generation, confirming our hope in eternal life.
Second Reading • (1 Pet 1:17-21). The teaching continues from last Sunday. Jesus Christ is seen as the one who leads us to God. His death redeemed (rescued) us from a ‘useless’ way of life. If we include the preceding three verses of this section of Peter and the following verse, 22, we see the closely argued message that, the living hope of the Christian demands from him three things: a new way of life; a holiness, which is based on obedience (1:14); respect for God, including a ‘scrupulously careful approach to life’(1:17) and sincere love of the brethren (1:22). Such a life is based on reverence for God as our Father (1:17) and on the redemption wrought by the blood of Christ. Christ´s sacrifice as the paschal lamb obliges us to holiness. The last verses of this section are an expression of faith in Christ who is eternally with God. He showed us who God is and so we can confidently believe that God does indeed love us.
Gospel • (Lk 24:13-35). We have in this paschal story a rich tapestry of theology, history and psychology in which we accompany the story of the journey of two depressed and disillusioned disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They are led, through their encounter with a stranger, who turns out to be Jesus, from bitter frustration to the pinnacle of Christian faith and the recognition of the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread.
Luke, far from giving us a simple journalistic account, uses his catechetical and theological skills to teach us about important facets of Jesus pedagogical approach. Just as some of Jesus’ most important teachings were imparted to the disciples on the journey to Jerusalem, he now gives the disciples on the way to Emmaus other important teachings about the mode of his resurrected presence to them and all believers (they recognized him in the breaking of bread).
The narrative suggests that Jesus is the companion on the journey of the disciples and of all believers through the ages. He comes to encounter us even without our asking and is obviously pleased when we invite him to stay with us, especially as we welcome the stranger (who is always Jesus, Mt 25:40) into our life. Luke recounts the narrative in such a way that we feel it is the Christian community as a whole who asks Jesus to stay with it, as it gathers to celebrate the Eucharistic meal and longs to establish an intimate connection with its resurrected Lord. We can see very clearly the strict relation between the meal at the inn and the multiplication of the loaves, and the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Some aspects of the story are worth a deeper pondering.
‘Something prevented them from recognizing him’ – Like Mary Magdalene in John´s Gospel, whose tears prevented her from recognizing Jesus, it seems that the sense of disappointment and deception at what had happened to Jesus was so strong on the part of the two disciples, that they were simply incapable of opening the eyes to perceive him.
‘Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight’ – It is in the celebration of the Eucharist that our eyes are opened to capture the essence of our faith. The narrative doesn´t say anything about where Jesus went when he disappeared. But we are led to believe that there is now a new presence of Jesus, glorious and resurrected. An Absence, which in a powerful way is also presence.
‘Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning?’ – When we contemplate the Scriptures, grounded by the Spirit, we too are filled with a longing to communicate to others (by the experience of our lives) that Jesus is truly resurrected and alive in our midst. We are invited to do the same as the Resurrected Jesus and communicate to those suffering from any sort of disillusion or lack of hope that Jesus is truly alive and present in our midst.
‘They immediately set out for Jerusalem’ – The two disciples set out immediately to communicate what they had heard and seen. When we genuinely meet the risen Christ in the Eucharist we just cannot keep solely for ourselves that joy. As Pope Francis constantly tells us: the encounter with Christ, continually perfected in the intimacy of the Eucharist, makes the Church and each individual Christian yearn to testify and evangelize.
Reflections towards a Homily
The disciples’ encounter with the risen Jesus must have been life-changing. It´s probably an experience that most of us have longed for at one time or another, especially at moments of of grief or of disillusion and deception. At such moments, like the disciples we yearn for someone to whom we can unburden all our devastation and who will understand us. It is exactly that loving and understanding presence that Jesus provides for the disciples in their hour of most need. Jesus´s question ‘what matters are you discussing as you walk along’ is designed to give the disciples the opportunity and the space to unburden themselves. They do that in an explicit outpouring of grief, frustration and desolation, revolving around that forlorn statement ‘Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free’.
Jesus gently chides the disciples for not situating his passion and death in the religious narrative of the Messiah´s coming and his redemptive acts as proclaimed by the prophets. He also uses their statement of grief to reconstruct their faith in the redemptive purpose of all that has taken place in these last dark days. The result is a longing on the part of the disciples to have this stranger talk more to them by spending the night with them.
Jesus interrupts his journey and agrees to spend the night with them and it is during a meal with them that, in the breaking of the bread, their eyes are finally opened and they recognize the presence of their risen Lord.
The same pedagogy that Jesus used with the disciples is available to us, in our relationship with him. Jesus also provides a model for us in our relationships with others, be they in a caring capacity or just simple friendship. It´s worthwhile looking closely at the steps Jesus takes to be able to break down all barriers and influence so profoundly the disciples`lives.
Jesus, draws near to the disciples; he walks by their side; he asks the question that gives them the opportunity to unburden themselves and talk about all their grief and confusion. Fourthly, he listens with empathy and uses their outpouring of grief to build on his consolatory message. Fifthly, he accedes to their request for him to continue amongst them a while longer. In that process he takes the final step of guaranteeing his constant resurrected and sustaining presence amongst them in the breaking of bread.
May we always encounter Jesus in the breaking of bread and may our hearts burn within us as he constantly approaches us in his word and the events of our daily lives.
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