April 4, 2008

Third Sunday of Easter / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Acts of the Apostles provides this weekend’s first reading.

Speaking on behalf of the Apostles, Peter preaches to an audience in Jerusalem. His sermon is to the point. God is the Creator. Humans sinned and thereby offended God. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus came into the world to bring divine forgiveness. Jesus was crucified, but rose from the dead.

It is interesting that the Apostles felt themselves bound to speak of Jesus. They believed wholeheartedly in the divinity of Jesus, in the saving effects of the mission of Jesus on Earth, in their role as instruments to continue the mission of Jesus, and in Peter’s place—first among them—as having been constructed by Jesus.

The Apostles did not venture off on their own mission. All sought to follow as exactly as possible the preaching of Jesus and to repeat the merciful deeds of Jesus.

The First Epistle of Peter supplies the next reading.

Scholars debate the authorship of this epistle. Was Peter the author? Or did someone write the epistle in Peter’s name? Or did someone wish to transmit what Peter had said or had seen?

Regardless, this epistle and the rest of the New Testament show how much the first Christians relied upon Jesus. Even after the Ascension, the earliest Christians wanted to be as close to the Lord as possible.

The Apostles believed that they could still relate to Jesus and Jesus could relate to them.

St. Luke’s Gospel supplies this Easter weekend with the third reading.

It is one of the best known and best loved of the Resurrection narratives, a story unique to Luke’s Gospel. It is the story of the risen Lord’s walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus with two disciples.

One way to read the story is that these two disciples simply are on a trip to Emmaus, for whatever reason. Some scholars, however, see in the story these disciples’ exit from the Christian band in Jerusalem.

Abandoning this group, they are confused and do not understand the meaning of all that occurred in Jerusalem with the trial and execution of Jesus.

Jesus joins them on the road. He teaches them, even interpreting the words of Moses, God’s principal prophet of the Old Testament.

Then, in the “breaking of the bread,” they realize that they are in the presence of Jesus. It is an allusion to the Eucharist. The New Testament often refers to the Eucharist as the “breaking of the bread.” It is the banquet of the Risen Lord.


Throughout the year, and certainly during the Lenten season just completed, the Church invites us to turn to Jesus and to allow Jesus to enter our hearts.

On this weekend, it gives us the story of the walk to Emmaus from the Gospel of Luke. We may put ourselves in the places of the disciples. We may be confused about what God means to us. We may walk away on our own, and in the process walk away from Jerusalem, the city of God.

But God does not leave us as wanderers. Just as Jesus joined these disciples as they walked away, Jesus will join us as we walk away in whatever form our walking away takes, whether it is indifference, confusion or outright rejection of God through sin.

If we open our hearts to Jesus, the Lord will speak to us and guide us. Finally, enlightened and led by the Lord, we will find God, most especially in the “breaking of the bread.”

Jesus comes to us in words that we can hear and in sights that we can see, such as through the Apostles and their successors in the Church.

As the second reading insists, Jesus is life. He is everything. †

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