Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reflects on St. Luke’s story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and the risen Lord’s appearance to the Apostles soon after, encouraging the faithful to “Be his witnesses” as well.
I do not consider myself to be a Scripture “scholar” but, rather, a Scripture “reader.” I do enjoy reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, and coming to know the Lord Jesus through the sacred texts. I encourage you to do the same. As often as I have read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I always seem to pick up something new, something different, something I didn’t notice before.
During this Easter season, I have been focusing my attention on the Gospel of St. Luke and its companion volume, the Acts of the Apostles. No coincidence there since much of the Scripture reading at Mass throughout this season is taken from these books! In addition to the sacred texts themselves, I like to take advantage of some of the very fine Scripture commentaries that are available, including one written by our own diocesan priest, Father Pablo Gadenz – a true Scripture scholar – to deepen my understanding of St. Luke’s writings.
This past Sunday, the Third Sunday of Easter, the Gospel reading from St. Luke (24: 35-48), presented another description of the risen Lord Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his Resurrection.
Two disciples who had seen the risen Lord Jesus as they traveled to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) returned to Jerusalem and found the Apostles gathered there. Excitedly, they “recounted” their experience of meeting the risen Lord Jesus and recognizing him “in the breaking of the bread.” As they spoke, the risen Lord Jesus appeared to them all.
St. Luke explains that they were “startled and terrified,” thinking they were in the presence “of a ghost.” The risen Lord Jesus allayed their fears and wished them peace, a greeting unique to his post-Resurrection appearances. He showed them the wounds from his crucifixion to relieve their troubled, doubting minds and hearts and invited their touch. Although he had no need for food, the risen Lord Jesus ate with them as he has done so often before and reminded them of the meaning and purpose of his suffering, Death and Resurrection as foretold in the Scriptures.
“You are witnesses of these things,” he told them, as he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
This passage in St. Luke’s Gospel should “open our minds” as well. The Easter season is an annual reminder of what we have read and heard and believed throughout our lives, but it is a mystery of faith worth repeating. In fact, we can never believe it or proclaim it enough.
The Lord Jesus has risen from the dead … for us! He has made forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation possible for us. Death has no more power over him and no more power over those who believe in the power of his Resurrection. He offers and shares his eternal life with us.
In the face of all the things that afflict us, cause us pain, drag us down, make us doubt and fear, fill us with anxiety, it is the risen Lord Jesus who appears to us in those moments. It is the risen Lord Jesus who lovingly comforts and promises us, “Peace be with you.”
Believe it. Be his witnesses.