3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
3-6 year olds
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
The Gospel for this Sunday again takes place on the day that Jesus rises from the dead, full of the new life of God. This moment in Jesus' life, his birth into the Risen life of God, is so important that the Church returns again and again to the events of that day. This reading takes place in the afternoon of that day.
Two of Jesus' disciples are walking away from Jerusalem, the great holy city, the city where Jesus has died but has risen to new life. Why are they walking away? Don't they want to stay and see Jesus? They are going the wrong way.
While they are walking,
Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Jesus walks with them, but they do not know it is him. I wonder why they don't know?
If they do not know him when he is right there, I think maybe they are lost. Usually we think of being lost as going the wrong way and not knowing where we are. But maybe being lost is simply not knowing.
When they are lost and do not know him, Jesus asks,
“What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
Then the disciples do something interesting.
They stood still, looking sad.
They stop walking. They are still.
We thought last week about being still. "Be still and know that I am God." But the disciples do not know. Not yet. They are sad because they do not know that Jesus is Risen. They do not know that Jesus is with them. Not yet. But they stand still. They are ready to listen.
When they stand still and are ready to listen, Jesus speaks.
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
He talks to them about what is written in the Holy Bible. He helps them to understand what it means. They like to hear him speak. Later they say,
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Their hearts burn inside of them when Jesus speaks. As they listen to the Word of God, their hearts burn. What is a burning heart? It is an excitement building in our chests. It is a feeling like something is going to happen. It is deep, deep joy. Have you ever felt this when you have been listening to the Word of God?
The disciples don't want this burning to end. When it looks like Jesus is going to leave they say,
“Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So Jesus went in to stay with them.
They sit down to share a meal together and still they do not know it is Jesus. But then,
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
He takes, blesses, breaks, and gives them bread. Do you recognize that? Remember the night before Jesus dies, when he shares the Passover meal with this friends, and he does something for the very first time ever?
Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’
Before he dies, he gives himself to them in the bread. Now, after he is Risen, he gives himself to them again in the bread. And what happens?
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him
Now they know him!
Then Jesus vanishes. He has made it clear that there is a new way now for him to be with his people.
But let's think. Is this way new? Or did we already know this way?
When the disciples are lost and sad, Jesus comes to them. We already know the Good Shepherd finds his sheep.
When the disciples are still, Jesus speaks to them. We already know the Good Shepherd calls his sheep.
When the disciples want more, Jesus breaks bread them. We already know the Good Shepherd feeds his sheep with only the best food.
And then, the disciples know him. Jesus says,
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me (John 10:14)
We already know that, too.
We have to wonder then, when we are sad, does Jesus come to us? When we are still, does Jesus speak to us? Can we know him in the breaking of the bread, too?
I wonder. What do you think?