April 15, 2018
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 47

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
1 John 2:1-5a
Luke 24:35-48

Celebrating Easter

Easter Prayer for Today

Letting Myself be Reborn

The Servant Girl at Emmaus

Feeling Our Hearts Burn With Hope

Peter, in our First Reading for this Eucharistic Liturgy, is employing a Jewish historical form; reviewing the events of the past and moving through the present into the future. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has “glorified his servant Jesus”.   Peter then hits his listeners over the head with the cold hard facts that they were responsible for the death of that very servant, Jesus.

God Who inspired their scriptures’ telling of the suffering of the Servant, has indeed raised that servant. Now then, Peter says, you can repent and have your sins wiped away and follow that Servant into your new futures.  

The Gospel for today has a simple liturgical flavor to it. The famous two disciples who had been traumatized by the death of Jesus and so were returning to the safety of Emmaus here are pictured as relating the experience of being spun around by their meeting with Jesus, Who had broken bread with them. Their hearts were on fire during this intimate liturgy and so back they come to relate their homiletic story.  During this relating, Jesus shows up and shows off by convincing His congregation that He is really present to them in His humanity and divinity.  Jesus then does the historical review, proving from the Holy Writings that He would have to suffer.  Then, as results with any good homily, the minds of the little congregation were opened with understanding.

This is all very intimate and comforting of course.  Intimacy has consequences and Jesus ends the liturgy with a definite Dismissal Rite. “Get out of here and preach repentance and the forgivingness of God, beginning right here, right outside that door.” 

I hear many Catholics, when asked, define themselves as Catholics by the confident statement, “Yes, I go to mass”. That hurts my ears. That is similar to one of the listeners in today’s Gospel saying that he was there when Jesus ate the bread so that makes him a disciple, a follower and that’s all. I would love hearing someone define themselves as a Catholic by saying, “Yes, I get sent personally and communally by the missioning experience of the reception of the Word and Eucharist.”  I know that’s a long form of self-definition, but you get the picture.

Every encounter that Jesus had with persons after the Resurrection was a “mission-meeting”. Jesus did not tell His little show-and-tell congregation to relax, talk things over and then see what’s going to turn up next.

As with any experience of intimacy, with God or with other humans, there will be implications.  Intimacy invites us into mystery, into adventure, into deeper experiences of life.  Jesus invites His intimate friends to go out and be intimate within all nations.

If I were allowed to reform the Eucharistic Liturgy it would be to explain and extend the ending of the “service” by having everyone who has “come to church” announce aloud where and to whom the Eucharistic Community is sending me.  It would be a Second Prayer of the Faithful. The faithful are faithful to their being met and by their naming of their being sent. Nobody would be sneaking out of the “service” privately right after Communion. They would have their minds open to understand more clearly why they did come to Mass and why they would want to leave together. The liturgy may end with the Dismissal Rite, but the Mass continues in our living His being sent.  O well, I guess I’ll have to wait patiently until I am elected the second Jesuit Pope.   

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