April 6, 2008 Year A
Third Sunday of Easter
Reflection on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: Stay With Us
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
We can rightly say it was because of the fire Jesus ignited in these disciples that prompted the invitation, "Stay with us." Their burning hearts urged them to be hospitable, but also they wanted to linger in this mysterious man's presence a little longer. What this stranger was saying not only made sense but his words also brought them a peace and an understanding of the events of the last three days; an understanding that eluded them thus far. And now their hearts burned deeply with a new and vibrant hope!
The opportunity to linger in our Lord's presence and love is always with us. We can begin our contemplation where our salvation begins: With Jesus, who was put to death for our transgressions and raised for our justification.1 When we invite Jesus to stay with us, he will draw ever closer to us and make himself known. And most notably, Jesus will make himself known to us in the manner he did to the two on the road to Emmaus. Their guest became host, because it happened while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.2
So why did he vanish from their sight? We note that throughout their conversation with Jesus their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Jesus was teaching them and us that we walk by faith, not be sight.3 But there are two ways in which Jesus intended for them and us to always know He is with us. First, in our Lord's conversation with these two disciples he showed them the word of life as he interpreted to them all the scriptures concerning himself. Through the revelation of the Word of God by the Word made flesh, their hearts burned within them. And secondly, their eyes were opened when the Lord revealed himself in the breaking of the bread of life. It is in these two liturgical actions, word and sacrament, by which Jesus still stays with us.
Jesus kept their natural eyes blinded from knowing him because he wanted them to have eyes to recognize him in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist. Through word and sacrament, Jesus prepared these travelers to know how he would never leave them nor forsake them. He was showing them and us that he is always with us. We are never nearer to Jesus than when we feed our hearts on both the Word of God and the Bread of Salvation.
Word and Sacrament bring to the Church the fullness of faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.4 It is this faith for which we contend. It is in this faith in which we were confirmed. And the mercy received through Word and Sacrament is the mercy the world longs to have. In the ultimate understanding of the unity of the faith, it is unimaginable that such unity can exist or complete evangelization occur in the absence of either the Word of God or the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. It is difficult to understand the Church being its true self if she should fail to proclaim the Good News in tandem with the Great Thanksgiving!
Our Emmaus road brothers encountered the living, resurrected Lord himself. However, compared to the initial resurrection appearances, it is this one which reveals the future of the Church's worship together with her union with Jesus. And upon this Church in her worship and in her life in the Son of the Father's love does the Holy Spirit descend in power enabling her to do the works that Jesus did. And greater works than these, because He said, "I go to my Father."5
As Cleopas and the other disciple experienced in their seven- mile walk from Jerusalem, our hearts too may burn within us as the Lord walks with us and talks with us. And then so that we may never be alone again, he gives us his body and his blood. Indeed, Jesus, Stay with us!
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, in your friendship may I ever live and move and have my being. Reach for me when I fail to stay close to you. Stay with me and in your friendship may I ever abide. Amen.
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