Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48
One of the important tasks of Jesus after the Resurrection was to fill his disciples with faith. The crucifixion was a painful event and for them their master was no more. Easter Sunday was the momentous event in the life of the disciples. It was a day of transformation. They experienced the resurrected Lord and they were not able comprehend the mystery and explain to any one what this resurrection meant. There was that suddenness, some thing extraordinary had taken place which they could not describe. There was a break from the natural event of ordinary life which they always experienced, leading them to the supernatural. That is the reason why they tried to explain these events through human terms such as: there was the sudden appearance, an empty tomb, the angels appearing, Jesus coming through the walls, blessing them, eating with them and so on.
Today’s Gospel tells us of the return of two Disciples who walked away to a distant village perhaps out of total disappointment over the events that had taken place about Jesus. The disciples could not make sense of Jesus’ recent death. Nor did they make out what was going on when Jesus appeared to them. Jesus has his own way of strengthening the faith of the disciples and like the well known parable of the foot prints on sand; he is able to carry the persons in trouble in his arms. This is a beautiful story of how a friend can convince another and teach the doctrine, by emphasizing the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus comes to them to teach them, eat with them, give them the mission and the promise to be there with them till the end of times.
In the First Reading, we heard the words, “God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.” Peter says that they all acted in ignorance and in this way the plan of God is fulfilled. The Old Testament tells us that God will send the messiah and this Messiah would suffer while bringing the redemption to people. But to all people are there is an invitation to change their lives and repent and listen to the good news which is Jesus himself.
In the Second Reading John says: “By this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commands. Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him’ but does not obey his commands is a liar and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that are in him.” Jesus here invites us to be persons who constantly study and try to understand and enter more deeply in the mystery of the Word of God. It was only after they understood the Scriptures that the disciples were able to understand the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. He invites us to be a community which shares and cares and in which everything is shared and where none are unnecessarily in need, in particular the sick and the marginalized. He calls us to build unity and peace and bring about the harmony in the present day divided society. That is what is meant by the tem God is love.
The Gospel story begins with the two disciples coming back from Emmaus, very excited because they had seen the Risen Lord. He had walked with them, he had explained the meaning of his death in terms of the Hebrew Testament prophecies and he had broken and shared the bread at table with them. It was only at the breaking of bread that they recognised him. For them this was an event where Jesus comes unexpectedly into their lives and they needed faith to recognise him. This is how we encounter Jesus too. The Gospel tells us that suddenly there was Jesus among them. He uses the same greeting: “Peace with you!” But the disciples could not believe and they think they are seeing a ghost. But it is Jesus who reassures them. He tells them not to be afraid and he asks them to touch him and feel him and have no doubts. This is the real Jesus, the Jesus they have always known. This is the Jesus who continues his ministry which he was doing before his passion and death.
But there is some difference too. This is not just some disembodied apparition of someone who is dead. It is the whole Jesus and yet – there are differences. For he can appear suddenly through locked doors; he can appear in widely separated locations. More than that now he not alone; the disciples are with him to continue his ministry. Jesus is now the consoler and so to overcome their confusion he even eats with them his meal. In fact they forget to entertain their visitor. He has to ask them to give him something to eat and they give him some fish and he eats it before them. The reality of the resurrection is being further confirmed. They are now filled with joy. His death had been a shattering experience and they never expected to see him again.
From now on, for them just as for us, Jesus can only be reached in faith and trust. We discover here something new. There is a reversal of roles from the earlier life of Jesus. During his life time Jesus had given them the meal. Even at the last supper he broke the bread and gave it to them. Now it is the disciples who provide the food for Jesus. The entire new community is itself the Body of Jesus and it does what Jesus did. Then, as with the disciples going to Emmaus, Jesus teaches them about the meaning of his suffering and death. Then he tells them about the prophets and makes them realize that the mission of the kingdom has been there from the beginning. Jesus now continues the teaching mission but all in a new light, the light of the Resurrection. Therefore Luke says that he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
The disciples have a new mission is to preach in the name of Jesus and to proclaim the kingdom of God. This involves conversion to Jesus’ way and experiencing the forgiveness of their sins. It is a call to experience a total reconciliation with Jesus and his Way, with all their brothers and sisters and with the whole of creation. Finally it is a call to be his witnesses through their lives, words, and actions, manifesting a community of unity and love.