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3rd Sunday of Easter (Ages 6-9): We Recognize Truth

 
 

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.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.

Two of Jesus' disciples walk away from Jerusalem. They heard the Good News from the women who went to the tomb and found it empty, but they did not recognize that this is Good News.


Recognize is a great word. It means to know again something that we once knew. It also means to realize that something is true. St. Luke uses the Greek word for recognize, Epiginosko, in one form or another 4 times in this Gospel reading.


The first time we hear it occurs while the disciples walk away from Jerusalem:

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. They once knew him, but now they do not. They do not realize the truth.


There is a problem.


Jesus asks,

“What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”...Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him,“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

This is the second time St. Luke uses a form of epiginosko. The disciples so completely do not recognize the Good News, they think that Jesus is the one who does not know.


So what do they know?


When Jesus asks them to tell him, we get a peek into what they know. We can check to see if what they know is true.

“...Jesus of Nazareth...was a prophet mighty in deed and word...

True? Yes. We know he is more than a prophet, but it is true.

...our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him...

Also true.

...we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel...

Now that is a very sad truth. They had hoped. That means their hope has died. That might make our heart ache.

...it is now the third day since these things took place...

Again, true. But why do they mention this? They must think the third day is important. Maybe they remember Jesus speaking about rising on the third day. Perhaps they want to believe. We wonder.

...Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

This is true as well. All of what they know is true. So the problem does not have to do with the knowledge they have.


Jesus says to them,

“Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe”

"Slow of heart." What does that mean? Does Jesus call them dumb? Nope. He says nothing about their brains. Their hearts cause their problem with recognizing. The truth stands right in front of them but they do not yet believe. They do not realize the truth. We wonder why their hearts are so slow to believe.


When they are slow of heart, Jesus takes time to explain.

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. 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 as they listen to the Word of God. What is this burning? Something takes place inside of them. Or perhaps it is someone. Someone who changes knowing into believing. Someone whose work causes deep, deep joy.

When the disciples have spent time with the Word of God, and their hearts are burning, they do not want Jesus to go. They say,

Stay with us”

Stay. The Greek word for "stay" is meno. This is the same word that Jesus repeats over and over in the parable of the True Vine. He says,


Meno in me as I meno in you. (John 15:4)


Meno means stay or remain. It means "make your home with me." What does Jesus do when they ask him to stay?

So he went in to stay with them.

Well that makes sense. In the Parable of the True Vine, Jesus says,


If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

They sit down to share a meal together but still they do not recognize Jesus. But then,

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

Jesus repeats the same actions that he does at the Last Supper. He takes, blesses, breaks, and gives them the bread that is his body.

In that moment,

when Jesus helps them remember the Last Supper,

and at the same time to celebrate it again,

their eyes were opened, and they recognized him

Epiginosko! Now they know again someone they once knew! Now they realize what is —and has always been—true!


Jesus lives. He is Risen. Never to die again.


This is truth that we experience when we share the Word of God.

This is truth we remember and celebrate every time we gather for Mass.

This is truth that we realize over and over.


You and I, we recognize this truth.


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