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Peace and Understanding
Third Sunday of Easter
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us as I turn my heart to you. I need your resurrected power and life. Just as you opened the Scriptures to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, open the Gospel to me and reveal your heart to me. Make my heart burn while you speak to me.
- The Return from Emmaus: Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the story of Emmaus. The once-discouraged disciples returned on fire after their encounter with Jesus on the road. They didn’t recognize him until finally, as today’s Gospel explains, he revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread. The Eucharistic bread revealed the real presence of Christ for these fleeing followers, just as it does for us. They poured their hearts out to Jesus and shared with him their discouragement. Their opening up in this way permitted Jesus to speak to them heart-to-heart and feed them in their need. Prayer is our chance to open our hearts in all sincerity to Jesus. Let’s talk to him now about what stirs us and concerns us, and ask him to reveal himself and appear to us in a resurrected way.
- Jesus Appeared Offering Peace: Just as he restored confidence and passion to these apostles on their road out of Jerusalem, he suddenly appeared in the locked upper room. Even though they didn’t go looking for him, but cowered in fear and confusion, he met them more than halfway. He came all the way to their doorstep and went through it! “Peace.” And he took steps to calm their questioning, incredulous hearts. “Why are you troubled?” His question was not only rooted in their surprise at seeing him alive again, but went even deeper and further. It was an existential question that pierces every generation. It is the question to every follower who has yet to be transformed by the Resurrection. It is Jesus’s question to you today: “Why are you troubled?” Why do you doubt all that Jesus promised and guaranteed? His question is not meant to condemn us, but to prepare the way for a renewed faith. Let’s talk to Jesus about our answer to his question and let him reconfirm us in his faith and love.
- He Opened Their Minds: We are never more primed to understand Jesus’s words than when we have been suffering with and for him. On the other side of the cross and after an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, the disciples could now understand. The cross seen from the vantage point of victory makes sense. It can never be divorced from the Resurrection. No death, failure, addiction, abuse, or illness is the full story. The victory of Jesus and his all-powerful love is what helps us endure and understand deeply the mystery of the cross. Let’s spend some time reflecting on crosses and victories in our lives and how Jesus has helped us understand the truth of his word. May this experience increase our confidence in him and his powerful love for us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I know the power of your Resurrection transforms everything. I also know that the process of experiencing the fruits of your Resurrection is a progression of spiritual growth and maturity. Help me open my heart to your “breaking in” with your glory and love. Help me experience the peace that results from the understanding and hope in your word which never fails!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to ways my heart is closed to you, locked in fear or doubt. I will claim the power of your Resurrection each time I notice fear, closure, or doubt.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 641-644 on the Resurrection. 643: Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as a historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale.” When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”
Fr. Mark Haydu, LC, is a priest living in Rye, New York. He currently serves as the local New York Chaplain for the Lumen Institute where he offers spiritual coaching to business leaders seeking to integrate faith, character, and leadership: www.lumeninstitute.org. He hails from Akron, Ohio.