Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2020
Every now and again I am asked to “do a blessing” at a family’s “new home.” The Church provides a beautiful prayer for such occasions. But, I always include in the blessing, a proclamation of this Sunday’s Gospel…The Emmaus Story.
When making the arrangements for “the blessing” I tell the family that it would be nice for us to sit at the dining room or kitchen table; whichever is most convenient for them. Once we are gathered: In the Name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit…I use the prescribed ritual for the Opening Prayer. Then, I share this deeply profound passage from Luke’s Gospel, which tells the story of two confused and heartbroken disciples returning to their home in a little village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
After proclaiming the Gospel, I don’t actually preach a homily. But I do try to make a brief explanation as to why I feel this Scripture passage is so fitting to the occasion.
At the outset, we are given some very significant details. First of all, the couple seems to have personal knowledge of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Were they there when they crucified our Lord? They have also been made aware of the growing evidence of Christ’s Resurrection. Nevertheless, it certainly appears that the scandal of “The Cross” is foremost on their minds and continues to weigh heavy on their hearts. It does not seem that their mood has been lightened, even by the reports of Easter morning.
We know that they have elected to return home. Whatever their motivation, they have decided to distance themselves from the other disciples. Surprisingly, the further they travel away from the unimaginably violent and shocking experiences of Good Friday, under the guidance of their unexpected traveling companion, the closer they come to understanding The Paschal Mystery. All of this builds up to the astounding realization that “The Guest” they have invited to their table, is in fact the Risen Christ. The drama concludes with their return to the community to share all that they have experienced.
At some point, during a house blessing, before we conclude with The Lord’s Prayer and the Sign of Peace, I say a prayer of blessing specifically over the table around which we have gathered. I pray that the family always remember to reserve a place at this table for Christ; inviting The Lord to Stay with us!
I pray that even as they sit together at the table sharing a meal, they also share an “experience of Eucharist.” This is to say that their hearts burn with gratitude for all that God has done for them through Jesus Christ. Finally, I pray that their family meal stimulate within them, an appetite for Eucharist celebrated with their parish family.
I think that The Emmaus Story is especially fitting to proclaim, and to reflect on, during this particular Easter Season. Our whole world is living through something unimaginably violent and shocking. The global health crisis weighs heavy on our minds and hearts, and there is little that can truly lighten our moods.
We are distanced from each other; certainly by “shelter in place” directives. But there is also increased distancing resulting from different opinions on how to deal with the pandemic. The recent demonstrations and counter demonstrations are evidence of growing disunity which only adds to the tragedy.
For people of faith, possibly the hardest part of this Good Friday experience we are currently enduring, is the moratorium on public worship. Funerals are being deferred and marriages postponed. There were next to no opportunities for private Confession; not even to satisfy our Easter duty. Among the more observant Catholics, there is not merely a hunger, but a forced starvation for Holy Communion.
And so it’s especially important for us today, to remember what happened on that first Easter night when two distraught disciples invited “The Stranger” to Stay with us!
May God Bless your table in a special way…and may your hearts burn with gratitude for all the that God has done for us through Jesus Christ. And when at last, there is no need for us to distance ourselves …may the drama of Covid 19 conclude with us coming together again…in our parishes…to Give God Glory and Praise.