The path of life

On these Sundays of Easter, our Easter celebration continues as we reflect on the presence of the risen Christ among us. The Easter season invites us to enter more deeply into the meaning of the paschal mystery, which we celebrate at every Eucharist. Each Eucharist is called a “little Easter” as it directs our attention to the paschal mystery. Christ’s paschal mystery — his life, passion, death and resurrection — are at the heart of our faith, continually offering faith and hope in God who is always faithful and responsive to the needs of all.

Today’s readings capture the essence of the Easter season, which we celebrate for 50 days. The refrain from today’s responsorial psalm calls upon the risen Lord to show us the path of life. The readings provide us with guideposts along the way of life that the risen Christ has forged for us.

Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

Psalm 16 is a clear affirmation of trust in God, who upholds us in our difficulties and who sustains our life, even in the very midst of death. The psalmist revels in God’s presence with abounding joy and blesses the Lord with praise and thanksgiving for having been rescued from death and for having been shown the path to new life in God. This same God of life raised Jesus from the dead. If we follow the path of life that Jesus models for us, we too shall rise from the dead with him and live eternally with God. This is our Easter faith and proclamation.

The first reading from Acts recounts Peter’s speech delivered after the Spirit of Jesus had been poured out on the disciples. Peter narrates how God commended Jesus to us to show us the path of life, a path that eventually brought death at the hands of those alien to God. Yet God raised up Jesus from the throes of death and exalted him, making him our path to eternal life. The path that Jesus forged continues to be available to those who open themselves up to the abundance of the Spirit.

The second reading, from 1 Peter, asks us to conduct ourselves with reverence as we sojourn to God. Jesus has ransomed us for God, not with any perishable goods but by the unblemished offering of his very life. Because Jesus was willing to give so totally of himself, God raised him and made him the eternal source of our faith and hope in God. We are called to model our lives on Jesus’ lifestyle of love and concern for others.

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The Gospel reading from Luke takes us on the road to Emmaus, the path on which we face both the struggles and doubts of life, along with the insights and connections that Jesus offers. Two of Jesus’ disciples, mostly likely a husband and wife, are returning to their home in Emmaus. Discouraged and distraught about all that happened to Jesus in Jerusalem, they had their messianic hopes shattered when he suffered and died a cruel death.

When the risen Lord encounters the disciples on the way, their doubts and disappointments prevent them from recognizing him. In response to their concerns, Jesus unpacks the Jewish Scriptures, showing them why the Messiah would suffer and die. Giving of self for others — even to the point of death — becomes the path to glory for Jesus as well as for any who choose to follow him.

The Emmaus search for wisdom continues as they invite the yet unrecognized Jesus into their home. As they share a meal, he takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them. In that very moment, they recognize Jesus but he quickly vanishes.

In reflecting upon their experience on the road and at table, they realize two things. Their hearts were burning within as he unpacked the Scriptures for them. They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Knowing such wisdom and connection had to be shared, they immediately returned to the other disciples to tell their amazing story.

The Emmaus narrative is a clear reminder of the Christian reality that we are nourished by the Lord from two tables: the table of the word and the table of the Eucharist. Both actions lead us to Jesus’ path of life.

In preparation for celebrating this Sunday Eucharist, reflect on how you have come to know and deepen your awareness of the risen Christ through your reading and study of the Scriptures. Recount the times when you experienced your heart burning within you as the Lord “opened up” the Scriptures for you.

Reflect also on how you have been fed by the Lord at the eucharistic table. In so doing, recall ways in which you can be a source of nourishment to others, especially those in need both materially and spiritually.

Let us use this Easter season to enter more fully into Jesus’ path of life. Happy journeying to us all!

[Biagio Mazza is an author and adult faith formation coordinator for St. Sabina Parish in Belton, Missouri.]

This story appeared in the April 21-May 4, 2017 print issue.

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