In our part of the United States the spring flowers are seeking the sun’s invitations to come out and spread their smiles. There are coldish winds that whisper to the flowers to stay inside. Spring around here is a time of tensions. “What should I wear today?” “Shall we play golf today, or button up for a walk in the “Rain of God?”
There are tensions within our spirits as well. Easter’s joy can so easily be dimmed by our ongoing experiences of carrying our crosses of life. Our renewal of baptism is a renewal of our beliefs in the love of God, but for us as human pilgrims. We can pray with the tensions of nature around us as we watch leaves budding or clouds forming. We can pray with the sprinkles of rain or sunshine. We pray with the inconsistencies of the weather and our own personal spirits. Easter joy comes and goes and we prepare for the Eucharistic consistency of God’s presence.
Our First Reading today begins immediately after the experience of the descent of the Holy Spirit during the Jewish agricultural celebration of Pentecost. Some of those who were listening to the disciples speaking in various tongues explained it all by saying that they all had been drinking too much of the new wine from the celebration. Peter stands up and what we hear is his explanation for the unusual behavior of the brethren.
Peter does two important things in this address. He summarizes the basic Christian beliefs about Jesus. He is from God. God handed Him over into the hands of the Jews. Some of the Jews, contrary to the Law, had Jesus crucified. Jesus, through the power of God, did great and mighty deeds. God raised Him up from the powers of death by raising Him to life.
The second section of his presentation is a reliance on what David, the Patriarch of Israel had spoken and which Peter applies to Jesus. Psalm 16, 11David is dead and his tomb is present, but what David had spoken was an oath from God that he would have a descendant Who would not taste death and this is the Christ. He has received the Holy Spirit and has poured this liquor upon those who believe.
The Gospel is just a wonderful story of the Resurrection. Two good human beings have suffered through the Passion and death of Jesus. They had their faith-dream crash into pieces. They follow their natural inclinations to go backward to the familiar. They do this with downcast faces and spirits. Here is the tension for them. They trusted the teachings of Jesus, His friendship and invitations and then went out as a loser. Perhaps they too had left everything to follow Jesus and now they were returning to patch it all back together by themselves.
Jesus comes along side them, but as is the usual practice during the Resurrection narratives, they fail to realize His real presence to them. Jesus plays it simple; He asks surprising questions of the two. The resulting conversation becomes a little scripture review. As Peter in the First Reading uses a scriptural quotation to advance his presentation, Jesus begins with Moses and moves through the Jewish scriptural traditions to advance the acceptance by these two men that the Christ had to suffer and die.
Jesus stays with them for a meal which He turns into an intimate sharing of bread which Jesus blest, broke and shared with them resulting in their eyes being opened and His disappearing. Was this a Eucharistic meal? Yes, in this sense, because it was a uniting, a calling to believe beyond seeing, and most importantly, because it culminated in a return to community and mission.
Jesus is buried three times in His life. The first was in the womb of His mother. The second was in the tomb after His death. The third is His being buried in the “Breaking of the Bread” after His Resurrection. All three burials were meant for His coming to His three ways of being a “Real Presence” within our human lives. The “womb”, the “Tomb”, and our “bodies” are blest by His presence. All three are delivery places. He was born, lived, died, was buried and rose that His body might give life and vision to this world. The womb and tomb could not hold Him. We who do hold Him, do not hold Him back, but hold Him forth, hold Him sacredly toward His sisters and brothers. We hold Him and yet He too holds us together and with a sense of having to do something good. We hold Him so that others may behold Him in how we live as His Body.
These two get back on the Jerusalem shuttle and, having regained their sight, return to their mission. Their hearts were burning with a renewed awareness of just who they were. Others had regained their self-sense as well and the fragmented and shattered were being collected and reformed in Jerusalem.
It is true that we cannot give what we do not have. These two Emmauseans were into a relocation process. They had been given back their sight and sense of themselves. They said “yes”, “amen” to Jesus’ truth that He had risen and to their own truths that the adventure of faith in following Jesus was really a journey of Jesus following them. They were pregnant, as had Mary been and the tomb as well, but now they were alive to give Him life, full, that they might give sight and life through and within the community of believers.
“The disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Alleluia.” Lk. 24, 35
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