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Third Sunday – Year A – Easter
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-28; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35.
1/ Reading I: RSV Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, `I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. 27 For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.’
2/ Reading II: RSV 1 Peter 1:17 And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. 21 Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
I. THEME: God’s plan of salvation is designed before the creation of the world and human beings.
There is a great difference between God and human beings. God isn’t depended on time as human beings; His thought and plan cover everything from the beginning until the end while human knowledge is so limited that people can’t receive His revelations at one time. God has His plan of salvation from the beginning when the universe and human beings aren’t created, and of course, when Adam and Eve didn’t commit their sins in the Eden Garden yet.
The center of God’s plan is Christ who shall bring salvation to humankind through his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This plan has two main parts: In the first part, God chose the Israelites to prepare for Christ’s incarnation. In the second part, when Christ comes, he shall extend God’s salvation for all people and nations. Therefore, Christ is the center of the Old and the New Testament. All things that Christ shall achieve were foretold implicitly in the Old Testament; when Christ comes, he completes all things foretold in the Old Testament. St. Augustine explained correctly: The Old Testament prepares for the New Testament, and the New Testament completes all the things that the Old Testament prepared for. St. Paul also says similarly: If a person reads only the Old Testament, he shall only understand obscurely God’s plan of salvation as being seen through a curtain; but if he reads it with the light of the New Testament, he shall understand all the details of God’s plan of (2 Cor 3:13-17).
Today readings show us the benefits of explaining Christ’s event through the light of the Old Testament. In the first reading, St. Peter demonstrated for people to know that Jesus of Nazareth is sent by God to execute His plan of salvation and brings the eternal life for people, as foretold in the Scripture. In the second reading, the author of the First Letter of Peter repeated the same thought in the first reading: Christ is the one who God knows before the world is created. He appeared in the last time to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. In the Gospel, Christ appeared to two of his disciples and accompanied them on the way to Emmaus to explain Scripture for them. According to the Scripture, he must die and resurrect to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. They recognized him when he broke the bread and gave it to them.
1/ Reading I: Christ is seized and killed according to God’s plan of salvation.
Peter’s homily after the Pentecost contains two main parts:
1.1/ Peter witnessed for Christ’s works: He, together with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” Peter needed not to illustrate many things because all things what Jesus did and what happened to the audience are still alive in his audience.
1.2/ Peter connected Christ’s events with what were mentioned in the Scripture: Since his audiences believe in the Scripture, Peter witnessed for Christ by connecting what had just happened with what were foretold in Scripture. His purpose is to light up his audience’s faith in God the Father and Christ. The Scripture foretold Christ’s death and resurrection many times. He must die and resurrect according to God’s plan of salvation to take away people’s sins and to bring salvation for them. Peter explained, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Peter used the verses of Psalm 16:8-11 to illustrate Christ’s resurrection. Verse 27 in today passage has an important meaning about the eternal life as it said, “For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Who is “thy Holy One” that Psalm 16 mentioned? It is certainly not King David because his tomb is still in Hebron to this day. The Jewish tradition at that time believed whoever entered in Sheol or Hades shall not be back in the world. The concepts of the next or eternal life with God are very strange to them. Therefore, the verse, “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence,” must be the prophecy mentioned about the Messiah and applied for Christ’s death and resurrection.
2/ Reading II: “He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”
2.1/ We are saved by Christ’s precious blood: The author of the First Letter of Peter reminded his faithful, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
When people live a life according to the flesh and against God’s commandments, they can’t bear fruits and are deserved to be perished; but God has a plan by letting Christ become the unblemished lamb to pour out his blood and to ransom them from sins and death. This plan already exists from the beginning, “before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.” Whoever believes in Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, shall receive salvation which is the eternal life.
2.2/ We should live a life worthy of God’s love: People can’t work for their salvation by their own effort or by keeping perfectly the law because all commit sins. They can only be saved by believing in Christ and keeping his commandments. To respond to Christ who loves and sacrifices for people, the author advised his faithful, “And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”
3/ Gospel: Jesus accompanied two of his disciples on the way to Emmaus.
There were two amongst Jesus’ disciples who left Jerusalem to come to Emmaus, about 11 km from Jerusalem. They conversed with each other about the events which had just happened. The fact that they left Jerusalem showed they lost their faith and hope in Christ.
3.1/ They heard and saw the Lord, but didn’t recognize him: While they had conservation, Jesus approached and accompanied them; but they didn’t recognize him. According to St. Luke, “their eyes were prevented them from recognizing him.” Jesus accompanied them to recognize their anxiety, and he helped them to understand the meaning of the events that related to him.
(1) Two disciples’ worry and desperation: He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”
In our life, there are times we acted like these two disciples. We let the events pass by and didn’t recognize their relation to our life. In order to see their meaning and role, we need to often reflect and to ponder about these events.
(2) Jesus’ explanation of Scripture: Then, “Jesus said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.”
3.2/ Two disciples recognized Jesus.
(1) Through their participation in Mass: “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”
What happened on the way to Emmaus was the image of the Mass: Jesus’ explanation of Scripture is equivalent to the Liturgy of the Words, and his breaking of the bread is corresponding to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both parts are necessary for us to recognize Christ’s presence in our life, and to empower us to face all hardships of our life.
(2) Through fraternal union and study: “So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
When living alone, we are easyily discouraged and despair; but when we unite with others to share our faith, we shall find wisdom, strength and courage to fight against all obstacles of our life.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must study the Old Testament to understand the New Testament, and the reverse is also true. Both of them are only the two parts of God’s plan of salvation.
– When we attend the Mass completely, both listening attentively to the Liturgy of the Word and receiving the Holy Eucharist, we are increased in charity, firmly in hope, and eagerly witness for Christ.