3rd Sunday of Easter, 30 Apr 2017

From the Dean’s Desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Easter presents us with a literal masterpiece. It is the story of the disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and is only found in Luke’s Gospel [Luke 24:13-35]. Amid the joy and exaltation that we find in these Easter stories of the appearance of the Risen Jesus to his disciples, this episode begins with doubt, fear and even desolation. But it is a story of transformation – one that can occur when one has experienced a personal encounter with Jesus.

Consider for a moment the state of these disciples – Cleopas and the other unnamed. They were returning to the hometown, Emmaus, some seven miles from Jerusalem. They had placed their hopes in the person of Jesus, as the one who was to set them free from all their ‘captivities’: political, moral, civil and economic that they had experienced through the Roman occupation of their homeland. We have the impression that they were in Jerusalem and would have seen the crucifixion of Jesus. Now they are returning home disillusioned, holding only the memory of the humiliated and crucified Jesus. So great is their despair that they do not even recognise Jesus who walks alongside them. [v15-24]

Consider now the actions of Jesus. He does not rebuke them for their lack of faith in His promises, although his words towards them are harsh – ‘you foolish men! So slow to believe all that the prophets have said[v. 25]. He simply allows them to continue with their story. Only then does he weave the elements of His story – the Scriptures – into their experiences. The burning sensation within their hearts allows them to eventually recognise him in the breaking of the bread. Here significantly, as the travellers offer hospitality to Jesus, it is Jesus who acts as host to them in the breaking of bread.

The story of the road to Emmaus becomes, then, more than just a story of the appearance of the Risen Jesus. It is a paradigm for the Church and for our ministry. Countless times when we encounter people disillusioned with aspects of the faith or life in general, it is advantageous to allow them to recount their experiences, rather than have them receive a lecture. In such cases it is more beneficial to listen than to speak. In our ministry it is central for us to recognise the dual role of Scripture and the Sacraments. Armed with these two fundamental elements of our ministry and Church life, we walk alongside other disillusioned and hurt pilgrims, offering them the hope found in the Risen Christ. As we hear again the story of the Emmaus road, we can ask ourselves: Do we recognise Jesus in our attempts to “feed” others? Do we recognise Jesus when others attempt to do the same for us? In what ways or experiences do I recognise or fail to recognise the presence of Jesus? Do I receive encouragement while I remain in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?

May we continue to experience the presence and power of the Risen Christ in our lives, especially when those moments of doubt and disillusionment occur in our own lives and those of our fellow travellers.

Fr Robert Bossini
Dean and Parish Priest