The Resurrection is news that must be told immediately to everyone
Sunday Homily for April 6, 2008
Third Sunday of Easter (A)
By Father James Gilhooley
In one year, 150,000 Americans were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil alone. Many found the Church by themselves. After his Baptism, one said to the priest, "How strange you Catholics withhold from the world the best news that ever came into it."
Rembrandt was so carried away by Emmaus that he gave us three different paintings of the meal. The New Yorker magazine writes that for Rembrandt the sacrifice of Jesus is equal to a bomb dropping into history and blowing everything askew.
This Gospel is one of the immortal short stories of history. Only Luke tells this story. Mark refers to it in a teasing one liner. (William Barclay)
Early Sunday AM, two disciples from the B team are walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. (Today three villages claim to be Emmaus.) It is two days since their Leader had been mugged and murdered. They had to be young. When was the last time you walked seven miles in three digit heat?
For centuries, Emmaus was considered a village. Some, however, speculate it was a Roman army barracks. So, these two Jews were employed there in a modest capacity. Possibly they were husband and wife. But, whoever they were, they were not happy campers.
Supporting actors though they might be, they merit space in the Guinness Book of World Records. They are among the first people mentioned in the Gospels as members of the Church.
They had waited around for the Resurrection, but they came up empty. Events would establish they had left Jerusalem too soon. They had closed the book before reading the last chapter. (Arthur Tonne) They were heading back to work making beds, emptying slop buckets, and eating army chow. They had lost their faith. The whole Jesus thing was a noisy fraud. They were losers. They were going back to lives of noisy desperation.
A stranger appeared. They did not recognize their former Employer. Presumably they were looking at a glorified body. Jesus, tongue deep in cheek, asks, "What's new, guys?" They respondwith shock, "Mister, are you the only one in Jerusalem not reading the newspapers and watching TV?"So, they bring the resurrected Lord up to speed.
The reaction of Jesus is machine gun quick. "You people must have room temperature IQs. Do I have to explain everything to you
sixteen times?" Here, folks, is a fresh dimension of Christ that we should dwell on. He doesn't suffer fools gladly. He does not get His laughs from drawing the same picture. There are times He plays hard ball. We should get our respective acts together. It's later than we think.
Jesus puts this husband and wife in the picture. And Luke is emphasizing the ability of the Lord to make sense of muddy situations. (Barclay)
Emmaus is in the immediate distance. Jesus pushes on, "Adios." "Lord, abide with us. Fast falls the eventide. The darkness deepens. With us abide." (Henry Lyte) It was not dusk. But they were so enchanted by the stranger they resorted to hyperbole to keep Him. How charming they must have found Him. He was waiting for their invitation. The Lord always knocks and waits. Once invited, He RSVPs immediately. We should be so gracious to hosts.
Both the icebox and freezer were empty in their condo. So, one went off to the supermarket for cold cuts and bread. If they were married, do you want to guess who went? Their depression had lifted without medication. The record shows that the Christ has that impact on those smart enough to take Him at His word.
The Lord takes charge. The guest becomes the host. The hosts become His guests. "He took the bread and said the blessing." Are we talking about the Eucharist? Possibly. We do not know.
You know of course how the story ends. They recognized Him. How? Perhaps the nail marks in His Hands. Perhaps the way He broke the bread. In any event, He disappears into the woodwork.They rush out and rent an Avis Rent-a-Donkey for the trip back to the central office in Jerusalem. Chairman Peter must know of this. They didn't take time to put the dishes into the GE washer.
What is Luke telling us? The foxy missionary is e-mailing us that the Resurrection is news that must be told immediately to everyone. So, when people stop you today and ask what's new, advise them Jesus has risen just as He said.
Remember the convert who had to find Jesus on his own, "Christ," said the monk, "is meant to be bread for daily use and not cake for parties. So, live today as though Christ died yesterday, arose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow."