April 23, 2023 Third Sunday of Easter

Welcome Father Bernward Today’s Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 | 1 Pt 1:17-21 | Lk 24:13-35

####”Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Ah, discipleship. It is such a central component of the Christian life. The Gospel reading this Sunday about the Risen Christ and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus often takes center stage — and well it should. We will, indeed, get to it, but I want to begin by reflecting upon the beautiful little gospel passage from the often overlooked 1 Peter. By “gospel passage” I refer not to the Gospel narratives with which we are so familiar in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but to a passage in which authors refer to or express their understanding of the good news of what God did through Jesus his Son and the Christ. This is something that we, the faithful body of Christ, all do from time to time.

1 Peter is a general letter to believers that tradition asserts is written by the apostle Peter, the leader of Jesus’s inner circle of twelve disciples who experiences his own roundabout journey to both discipleship and leadership in the burgeoning Christian movement. Perfection is clearly not a criterium for either role. Further, Peter’s journey suggests there is hope for all of us to get our acts together in one way or another and find purpose and vocation in this life. The passage from today’s reading gives evidence to such a path.

Peter says that if we invoke God as Father and understand ourselves as bought back from sin by Jesus’ willing sacrifice of his life, then we must act accordingly in our own journeys to union with God. Jesus, Christ and Son, was in relationship with God prior to creation and has always been key to God’s plan for the salvation of all people who find hope in God. All we must do is say yes to this hope. Such hope in faith and love leads us to focus not on transient things which are ultimately futile, but on what endures: relationships that help us determine who we are and who God is in this world.

This “yes,” however does not mean that life in learning and service to God’s plan for us, aka discipleship, is easy. Oftentimes God’s plan for us is oblique, even mysterious. This must be what our two disciples in the Gospel of Luke are feeling. “We thought he was the one,” they say, but they have no idea what to make of the events that have come to pass. How could this ignominious death of the one they believed to be the Christ be God’s plan? We can relate to their desire just to go home. And yet, just when they fear that all hope is lost, the risen Christ appears. He doesn’t scold, he simply accompanies them. It is in establishing relationship with them that they open themselves to both his teaching and who he truly is.

So, back to discipleship. It must be we don’t have to be perfect to encounter the risen Christ in our lives. Indeed, it may be that amid our very earnest failures that we find ourselves discombobulated enough — and open enough — for Christ to point us in a new direction. It doesn’t have to be this way, the Gospels give us other paths for our sojourns, but in our brokenness is one of the many ways that God finds us. I cannot speak for anyone else, but this is welcome news to me. I hope it is for you as well. Just look at Peter in our passage from Acts, giving the first Christian homily. His move from denial to hope in action is a beacon for all of us.

Source of reflection: Sherri Brown, Creighton University 2023, https://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/042323.html Source of image: Cara B. Hochhalter, “On the Road to Emmaus”, http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57467