3rd Sunday of Easter
May 4, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-23, Psalm 16, 1 Pt 1:17-21, Lk 24:13-35
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Last Sunday after the canonization of Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII, Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York said that many people who don’t understand our Catholic faith tradition were probably wondering why thousands of people were gathered in the Vatican for the canonization. Millions of people around the world were watching on TV, or following on Twitter or Facebook. Why was everyone so excited, honoring these two dead men?
Cardinal Dolan explained that they are not dead. In the physical sense, they may be dead, but in the truest sense of the word, they are alive. The reason they are being elevated to sainthood, worthy of veneration, is because it has been proven that they can intercede for us. They will continue to pray with us and for us.
We also believe that our brothers and sisters, even members of our own families, are in the company of our Lord. They may not ever officially be proclaimed saints, but they are saints, and they can pray with us and for us. This is what we call the power of intercession. They are not dead; they are alive. They know where we are. We can no longer see them, but they can see us. We can no longer hear their voices, but they can hear us.
In today’s gospel, St. Luke the Evangelist tells the story of two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were sad because they had lost someone who was so important in their lives – their Lord and master. They thought he was dead. Because of their sadness and their hopelessness, they were unable to recognize our Lord when he approached them. So our Lord explained the Scriptures – that all these things had to happen.
They must have been enlightened by our Lord’s explanation, because when they reached their destination, they invited their guest to stay with them. There in the breaking of the bread, they recognized that he was the Lord. Once they realized who he was, he vanished from their sight.
Why? Because at that point, their faith was re-awakened and they didn’t need the presence of our Lord – the physical presence our lord – at that point in time. When he disappeared, they were able to exclaim, “Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
These are beautiful words. Each one of us has the opportunity to say these same words every time we gather together and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Yesterday during the retreat for Liturgical Ministers, Deacon Chris reminded us that this journey to Emmaus is the prototype of the Mass. What happened on that journey is happening right here, right now. Our Lord Jesus gave us his living words in the first reading, the psalm, the second reading and the gospel. And in a few minutes, he will reveal to us – in the form of bread and wine – his Real Presence, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Yes, we are on a journey.
Several months ago, on one of my walks around the famous “Bedford Loop”, I met one of our Bedford residents. When people greet you here with, “Good Morning,” they really expect you reply, “Good morning.” When they ask, “How are you?” they really want to know how you are. This is quite different from when you are walking in New York or Virginia Beach.
So I told him I would not be walking during the next week because I would be visiting my aunt in New York. He told me, “You know, I have never been to New York.’ When I got home, I saw my next-door neighbor, Tom, and I said, “I can’t believe it. I met someone here in Bedford who has never been to New York.” Tom said, “Well, I am not surprised. I can introduce you to someone here in Bedford who has never been to Roanoke.”
Never been to Roanoke?! Yes.
I took it as a very good sign. That means we are living in a beautiful and wonderful place. We don’t need to go anywhere. This is heaven for us. We don’t need to travel. This is a great place.
But yet, whether we like it or not, or admit it or not, we are all travelers. We are on a journey. We are all travelers in this life. As days, months and years go gliding by, more and more of our loved ones are on the other side of the barrier. This knowledge could be a cause of fear, but it can also be a source of joy, because we know our final destiny is not a forbidding tomb. It is the bosom of our Lord and our God.
The same Jesus who was on the journey to Emmaus with those two disciples is the same Jesus who is with us. He just spoke to us in the Liturgy of the Word to warm our hearts. And after we have received his body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion, we will go forth forth. May we always keep in mind that Jesus is with us on our journey.