3rd Sunday of Easter
18th April 2021
Year B – Psalter week 3
On Easter Sunday, I mentioned the seeming discrepancies when it comes to the accounts of the empty tomb and the resurrection: of what exactly happened, to whom, and when. We were reminded that the gospels are not simply history books, or photographs, as it were, of Jesus’ life. Rather, each gospel was written for a particular community, and was written in a way that addressed the needs of that community, bringing out the saving events in the life of Jesus, and what they mean, in different ways. This is, after all, why the Church has retained for us four gospels, each of which provides for us a different, yet important, perspective upon Jesus’ life and ministry.
Today’s account is from the Gospel of Luke, who was a Gentile (non-Jewish) physician and companion of St. Paul. This gospel was written for Gentile Christians and for Israelites and Samaritans who also lived throughout the Mediterranean world. One of St. Luke’s main themes, therefore, is that Christ has come to gather all people and nations into God’s kingdom.
In telling of the resurrection, Luke mentions three encounters with the risen Christ. The first is when Jesus walks alongside two disciples on their way to a village called Emmaus, but they do not recognise him at first. Luke writes that as they were walking and recounting the events of Holy Week, ‘[Jesus] said to them, “You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Later that evening, we hear, “while [Jesus] was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’ 
When these two disciples went back to the apostles in Jerusalem, St. Luke mentions, very briefly, another appearance of the risen Jesus. When the two disciples found the Eleven and those assembled with them, they were told, “Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 
The final account of the resurrection in Luke is today’s gospel. As the disciples returning from Emmaus ‘told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised [Jesus] at the breaking of bread’, the risen Jesus appears to them all together.
St. Luke, in these resurrection accounts, is keen to draw out certain aspects of the resurrection to his hearers.
One aspect, particularly drawn out in today’s gospel, is the fact that the resurrection of Jesus was a bodily resurrection. ‘Look at my hands and feet’, he says, ‘Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ To prove further to them that he is not a ghost, Jesus asks them, ‘”Have you anything here to eat?” And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.’
A second aspect is that the risen Jesus is encountered in the breaking of bread. It is no coincidence that all four gospels focus very closely upon the Last Supper, when Jesus institutes the Eucharist. Luke’s account of the road to Emmaus also speaks of the Mass, which his own community would have celebrated in obedience to the Lord’s command. In the Emmaus account, the disciples recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread which happens at every celebration of the Eucharist.
A third aspect, also central to the Mass, is Luke’s emphasis on encountering the risen Jesus in his Word. On the road to Emmaus, Luke says that ‘starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.’ After this encounter, the disciples said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’  Again, in today’s gospel, when the larger group of disciples encounter the risen Lord, he says to them: ‘”This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.” St. Luke says that ‘Jesus then opened their minds to understand the scriptures.’
Once again, then, we are called to open ourselves to encountering the risen Lord in the celebration of the Mass, and to also deepen our knowledge of the Word of God, as found not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament, in order to dispose ourselves to encountering Him more deeply in our lives.
There are many excellent resources currently available to help us understand the scriptures better. The Liturgy Commission in our diocese have produced a Reflection Course for Ministers of the Word of God, which can be freely downloaded from our diocesan website. One of the best courses that I have come across is the Bible Timeline by Jeff Cavins, that explains which books of the Bible contain the main story, and where all the other books fit in. There is also a free podcast called ‘Bible Timeline in a Year with Fr Mike Schmidt’ which consists of a daily twenty-five minute podcast which takes you through the Bible in one year and has short but very helpful commentaries. Good News books at St. John’s also has many resources.
 Luke 24:30-32.
 Luke 24:34.
 Luke 24:35.
 Luke 24:27.
 Luke 24:32.
 The Book version of this course is entitled ‘Walking with God – A Journey Through the Bible’ by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins.
Acts 3:13-15. 17-19
You killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead.
Psalm 4:2. 4. 7. 9.
Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
1 John 2:1-5
He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.
So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Lord Jesus, explain the scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.