ACTS 2:14, 22-33; PSALM 15; 1PETER 1:17-21; LUKE 24:13-35
We have two sets of homily notes. Please scroll down the page
Fr. Thomas OYODE
“Our Emmaus Journey”
Reading the gospel of today (Lk. 24:13-35), one finds a particular experiential narrative that is rather deep since every biblical narrative is experiential in diverse ways. We gain an understanding of this profoundly experiential nature of the passage as often as we reread it and meditate on it over and over again. The first, is our experience of a journey, our experience of movement. In an age of globalization and migration with their attendant crisis, this image takes on a radically new insight with words such as: “two of the disciples were going to a village…”, “Jesus walked with them”, “they came near”, “Jesus walked ahead”, “they returned to Jerusalem” etc. These words speak to us about our every day events of life. We are always on the move.
The second which is not unrelated, is the sign of the walk away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. In other words, their movement along this particular way also has something for us to reflect on as it leads us through the many signs and symbols with which this gospel passage is beautifully adorned. This is well captured in Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Holy Eucharist, 2004, Mane Nobiscum Domine: “When minds are enlightened and hearts are enkindled, signs begin to speak.”
These two disciples were moving away from Jerusalem to a place rather nearby. Jerusalem is usually presented in the bible as a place where God is encountered. In other words, these disciples were journeying away from the presence of God but were at the same time, not too far away from him. It seems to be the general disposition of the disciples and their resurrection experience., they were irresolute, incredulous and indecisive. These particular ones were apparently distraught and down cast, they were hopeless. It was a journey of confusion and gloom, a walk in disappointment.
Again, these disciples were anonymous in the sense that nothing is said about them again after this experience. In this sense, they represent every Christian believer. Their experience could be likened to our experience. We tend to journey away from God when our expectations are not met. We become disappointed, frustrated and gloomy when certain outcomes do not turn out in ways that we expect. We begin to complain, we find ourselves losing faith and either casting away our long held beliefs about God or holding on to them with some incredulity. Thus at one point of crisis or the other, we have actually travelled along the Emmaus road, travelling away from the Lord.
But it strikes a chord that Jesus came to join them on this journey and they did not recognise him even as he engaged them in a gist. It is like a woman who wanted to meet a Parish Priest but met a man at the gate to whom she narrated how she needed to see the priest as desperately as possible. She begged the gate man to hurry and go tell the priest that he had a guest but it turned out that the supposed “gate man” is the Parish Priest himself. So often times, Jesus goes with us, he walks with us, he speaks to us in every of our ordeals and challenges and we often fail to see him, to recognise him or even hear him as our Lord and Brother and not some stranger.
Like these two men, furthermore, the Lord speaks to us from the Scriptures, our bible, the teaching of our Christian faith. How the powers and marvels of God are revealed with the wisdom and light that it gives. The Easter testimony is, thus, that God is with us, that God is not dead, and that Jesus is the Lord. We continue to reflect on our collective experience of the corona virus and its disheartening ramifications. We can really experience yet again what it means to be in pain and to be heart broken, what it means to be lonely, bored and in some cases depressed. Often times before now, we could find solace in the warmth of our social groups be they family or friends. Some persons who needed to talk to someone had opportunities of sharing with their pastors and getting some encouragement. Today these have become a luxury.
Nevertheless, we are beginning to discover ever more that the core of Christian spirituality itself is the heart, if we do not experience the burning fire of his presence in our hearts, we would not experience it even when we gather at the breaking of the Eucharistic bread at Mass. Therefore, let us take these times of isolation to pay attention to Jesus through a prayerful, meditative and reflective reading of the bible and other Christian literature. We would see Jesus walking with us and we would hear him speaking to us. Let us practice daily meditation for at least thirty minutes (preferably in the morning). Me thinks that this practice would indeed lead us to a deeper appreciation of spiritual communion a long tradition in the catholic church which today has come to assume a newer significance. This appreciation is in the sense that we realise even more how the Word of God leads us into the heart of Christ himself which is what communion is about. It therefore becomes clearer that Eucharistic communion is not merely a sacramental sharing in the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ under the signs of Bread and Wine but a real participation, an encounter with the Lord who dwells among us. Let us prayerfully invite him to stay with us. Lastly, this Sunday ushers us into the month of May, the month of greater devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Let us contemplate the mystery of the power of the risen Lord as summarised in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary as we gather daily to pray, turning our homes into a miniature church, a domestic church. May the Mother of all consolation be with us and help us to recognise Christ in our midst. Amen.
Fr. Dan EVBOTOKHAI
THE HOPE OF THE HOPELESS
Today’s gospel recounts the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus within hours of the resurrection. They were going home disappointed, because what they had hoped for crumbled by the sorrows of Good Friday, even the report that Christ’s tomb was empty did not alter their thinking and so they journeyed home hopeless. They represent those who abandoned the Christian journey because Jesus or the Church did not meet their expectations. They also represent those who abandoned the Church because they couldn’t recognize the miracles and powers in the Church.
Hopelessness is a disease of the human spirit that is desperately hard to cure. Today there are many people who are on their way to Emmaus, discouraged, disappointed, and hopeless. There are many Nigerians who have hoped that things will be better thus, they gave in their best to studies and hard work but today events mocks at them. Many people cope and hope for the better. But their fears seem so true that things will rather get worse. Some are even disappointed that the church would have to shut down for an ailment. In the face of this hopelessness today’s gospel reminds us that it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory (Lk24:26). Thus, it is only despair that says a situation is beyond repair. No condition is permanent; our present condition today is not permanent.
The gospel further presents us with two basic ways to cope with hopelessness. The first way is to the Word of God and the second is to participate in the Eucharist. Beloved in Christ anytime we are challenged with hopelessness let us try and read the scripture. The gospel says as He explained the scripture to them; their hearts burn within them- that is revival. The scriptures revives us moment of trials and worries. We have the scripture always with us, study it believe it and pray with it. The first and second readings invite us in a special way to have sincere recourse to the Scripture if we want to understand what happened to Jesus and what happens to us every day. Again, as we read the scripture we are inspired by the examples of the patriarchs and the apostles, we begin to understand the dynamics of Christian life, we are able to confront our fears and discern the purpose which is in the heart of the Father.
On the other hand, to cope with hopelessness we must try to receive the Eucharist. At the breaking of bread the gospels their eyes were open. It is quite unfortunate that with the crisis of COVID 19 many Catholics have not been able to receive the Holy Eucharist. This does not reduce its saving and healing effect. Though the crisis is there, it is true that we cannot gather, but Jesus never ceases to visit anyone who makes himself available and who is ready to invite him into his house. The disciples said to Him, stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over and so Jesus went in to stay with them. Therefore, we all must make this same effort to invite to stay with us. Let us invite him to stay with us in this evening time of our life, let us invite him spiritually into our hearts and be open to receive him. In Rev.3:20 says Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The Church in her providence has given us that beautiful prayer – An Act of Spiritual Communion. Through this prayer we receive Jesus spiritually; don’t fail to say it today. (visit the last page for the prayer).
As the two disciples journeyed home they were surprised that the man with them had not heard of the recent events that had Jerusalem in turmoil. But Jesus coming into their midst unknown to them, explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Emmaus therefore becomes a period of spiritual renewal and formation. Jesus is a patient teacher. He is always ready to help us. Jesus comes in to clear our doubt and teach us His ways. But just like the two disciples we don’t recognize him in our struggles; we don’t recognize him in our spiritual and physical journeys because our senses are blurnt by sin.
Thus, in his love and kindness Jesus revealed himself to them and as soon as they recognized him, they were completely changed. The gospel says that same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. Jerusalem for us is the Church, a true change of heart requires a return to Jerusalem. And so they left their foolishness and slowness of heart (Luke24:25). We too must leave those things that impede our Christian journey, we must leave sin: hatred, malice, envy, we must leave anger and immoralities and return to the Church. Lord help us and save us. Amen.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.