Third Sunday of Easter
Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48
On the Third Sunday of Easter in Year A, we read the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In Year B, we read what happened on their return to Jerusalem.
The disciples tell the story of the stranger who joined them on the road and whose words caused their hearts to burn within them: the Stranger who, in breaking bread revealed who he was.
Then, as the story unfolds, the Jesus who disappeared from the inn on the road to Emmaus comes among them with words of peace. The reaction of the disciples is natural in the face of events beyond human comprehension - fear and alarm. Even having had the witness of the women - and the disciples on the road - the mystery is too great - this must be the ghost of Jesus returned to haunt them - to condemn them for their lack of courage and faith in him.
Instead, Jesus speaks words of calm - striving to reassure them that he is not a ghost - encouraging them to touch him and to feel the substance of his body - and going further, eating a piece of fish - which no ghost could even contemplate.
Their joy is great - but Jesus wants them to go beyond joy: he wants them to understand. And so, he again goes through the Scriptures drawing out the threads of the story which he has brought to fulfilment.
He reminds them that he had foretold the events of his Passion - his death - and resurrection but accepts that they could not have understood until the events had taken place.
Now they had lived through the momentous events - they had seen their friend cruelly killed and lived through the grief and despair that followed. But then, they had seen - touched and heard that same friend, risen from the dead.
They were to become his witnesses - to speak of their experience - their sense of loss and defeat, now given way to new hope and joy in their encounter with the risen Jesus.
They had taken a good deal of convincing - but were now commissioned with the task of witnessing to Jesusí life, death and resurrection and to proclaim the forgiveness of sin made possible in his name...
...and for that they were going to need the Holy Spirit
What does this mean for me?