May Christ be your light! Reflection on the Gospel of the Third Sunday of Easter

This Sunday I have the opportunity to share with you a reflection that tries to shed some light on this third week of Easter that we begin today.

The Gospel passage that we are given today, about the disciples of Emmaus, is one of the most moving of the whole New Testament. It shows us the transforming power of the Risen Christ on all those who wish to draw near to him. I would like to focus on three moments or scenes that mark the development of the whole passage and these can be named: Despair, encounter and joyful announcement.

Despair: First of all, the Disciples of Emmaus experienced great disappointment and despair after the death of Jesus. The starkness of his death has become for many of his followers an incurable disappointment. They had a very clear picture of what the Messiah was supposed to be, and Jesus’ death seemed to contradict all their expectations. They were lost and discouraged, not knowing what to do or where to go. The crisis of the Cross, or rather the «scandal» and «foolishness» of the Cross (cf. 1 Cor 1:18; 2:2), finally buried all hope. He on whom they had built their existence has died and, defeated, has taken all their aspirations with him to the grave.

Encounter: However, God does not stand idly by and takes the initiative. The disciples (presented as wandering pilgrims) meet the Risen Christ in the breaking of bread and everything changes. In the darkness of the most anguished night, Jesus wanted to approach them and accompany them so that they could discover that he is «the way, the truth and the life» (Jn 14:6). When human hope fades, divine hope begins to shine because «what is impossible with men is possible with God» ( Lk 18:27; cf. 1:37).

When Christ broke the bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized that it was He who was with them. Suddenly, all the pieces began to fit together in their minds and hearts. Their discouragement and despair were transformed into deep joy. Christ has conquered death and is truly alive!

Joyful announcement: This Easter joy, this energy that comes from the Risen One cannot be hidden. It is uncontainable by nature. The disciples, drunk with enthusiasm, bear witness. The Risen One has made them rise from the tomb of their unbelief and affliction. Encountering Him, they have found the explanation and fulfillment of the Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets; now the Cross makes sense. This is the joyful Mission of the Church, to which we are all called, and even more so in this time of Easter. The Light of this Candle that has been lit on the night of the Vigil should not be reserved for ourselves. It must transcend our lives, families, homes, parish. It must illuminate with freshness the world and society in which we move and exist.

But none of this can be possible if we do not first live authentically each of these three scenes or moments experienced by those at Emmaus.  

Have you recognized yourself in the depths of despair?

Have you personally encountered the Risen One?

What do you lack in order to bring his Light to those who lie in darkness?

May the encounter with Christ in the breaking of the bread fill us with renewed faith and a deep commitment to the joyful Mission of the Church. Amen.

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