Homily for April 27, Wednesday of Easter Week
From what we hear in the Gospel readings throughout Easter, each appearance of the Risen Lord was unique and taught a different lesson. It seems to me that there are at least two aspects usually present. On one hand, Jesus helps the people who see Him to understand what has happened – that He truly died and rose from the dead. On the other hand, He also helps them to understand the future, by teaching them that He will continue to be present with them, and how to discover His presence from then on.
We see that clearly in today’s Gospel reading. First, Jesus helps them to understand His life, death and resurrection by interpreting for them the Old Testament prophecies about Him. However, the way He does this is in itself a lesson. He is present to them, but hidden; “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him”. They experience the truly risen Lord without seeing Him as such until the last moment. He was preparing them to discover Him in a different way.
And that way he was teaching them, was the Mass. It started with them being downcast and confessing their confusion and lack of faith – almost a penitential rite. Then, Jesus talks to them about the Scriptures – just like the Liturgy of the Word, with readings and a homily. Lastly, they have a meal together, and His presence is revealed in the “breaking of the bread” – which, in the early Church, was another name for the Eucharist. They then go out to share their experience, as we should do at the end of Mass when we are told to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord”.
Clearly, this wasn’t just a message for the disciples and apostles two thousand years ago; it was intended as a message for all future generations of Christians. If we want to experience the living, risen Christ, we should not necessarily expect spectacular miracles. Jesus walks with us each day, and is really, truly present in the Mass through the Word and, especially, in the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist. May God grant us to experience His presence anew in this and every Mass, and teach us to recognize Him in all the people who walk with us on the path of life.