HOMILY & IDEAS

Luke 24:13-35

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

A lot has happened on -- that very day, the first day of the week. The Gospel readings for Easter Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, and the 3rd Sunday of Easter all tell of spectacular moments that occurred on this first day of the week.

This week we hear of two disciples of Jesus -- one of whom is named Cleopas.

If one had to sum up their mood in a word or two perhaps these words would be DEJECTED or DISAPPOINTED. We hear in this Gospel that (1) they looked downcast, that (2) they had hoped that Jesus would have been the one to redeem Israel, and that (3) although they went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, they add -- But him they did not see.

Further, in both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark the disciples are told that they should go to Galilee where they will see the risen Christ. Yet, the two disciples in the Gospel this Sunday are heading in the opposite direction to Emmaus.

Clearly these two disciples of Jesus had had enough. There may still exist a some kind of flame of belief in their hearts based on all that they had experienced with Jesus; but it looks as though they are planning on transitioning back into their former lives -- their former occupations. They had invested their time and their faith in Jesus who they sincerely hoped was the one to redeem Israel.

However, we know how the story continues.

Jesus begins to walk with them and first the disciples recount what they know ABOUT Jesus TO Jesus and then Jesus recounts to them how Moses and all the prophets referred to him in their writings -- but still with his true identity kept hidden from these two disciples.

Finally, in the breaking of the bread they recognize him -- but then he vanishes.

However, their faith is restored, their enthusiasm is brought back to life, and their direction changes -- literally; for they AT ONCE return to Jerusalem.

How does this preach?

The story of Cleopas and his fellow-disciple is not a conversion story. It is not a story of two unbelievers who are moved to immediately believe as a result of a powerful, spiritual encounter with Christ; Rather, it is a story of dejected, disappointed lukewarm (make your own pun) believers who need to make an about-face from the trajectory that they are on -- a trajectory that will take them further and further away from Jesus.

We may know very well how these Jesus-distancing trajectories feel. However, we may also know well the feeling of having our hearts burning within us when we feel God communicating to us through scripture, through prayer, through meditation, through nature, and through the words and actions of others.

The Masses that we attend each day or each week may mirror this Gospel Reading. We may show up being able to speak of the story of Jesus, but we do not feel that we are part of the story. We simply are able to recount the events, but we do not see how we fit inside the story ourselves. We are presented with readings from Sacred Scripture to which we listen for inspiration, for encouragement, for challenge, for the voice of God speaking to us in intimate ways. Finally, we ask to be intimately united to Jesus in the eating of his body and the drinking of his blood in the Blessed Sacrament. We look to recognize Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We pray to have our ears and eyes open to what is true and holy.

Perhaps what happened to Cleopas and his fellow-disciple is what we want to happen to ourselves. We want to have that burning feeling in our hearts. We want to hear the voice of God speak to us intimately through Sacred Scripture. We want to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist. We want to have the enthusiasm, hope and courage to make an about-face and return to Jerusalem -- to return to Jesus -- to return to a deeper faith.

Ultimately, we want to not only be able to recount the story of Jesus; but to become part of this story. To become or return to being his active, believing, enthusiastic, faith-filled disciples.

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