April 23, 2023 – Third Sunday of Easter
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/042323.cfm)
Easter Season proclaims: “The Lord has risen. Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia”. But how do we recognize the risen Lord in our life now?
In a class inside the seminary, their professor asked the seminarians to discuss how do people recognize the presence of our risen Lord. One of them complained, “Yes, we believe Jesus has risen, but it is not easy to recognize Him in our midst. It is like finding a needle inside a haystack.” The professor continued: “Well, let us start with that. How can we find a piece of needle inside a haystack?” A seminarian answered: “We sort through each straw until we find the needle.” “The scientific approach”, the professor said. “People have done it but it is a futile and time-consuming exercise to examine each element of our lives until we recognize His presence”. “How about if we burn the hay so that we can find the needle?” suggested by one. “The practical approach. You may have found the needle but you lost the hay. You may recognize the Lord but destroyed lives in the process,” commented by the professor. He then continued, “The best way thus to find a needle within haystack is to use magnets. Use magnets to attract the needle from the haystack. Eventually, the magnet will recognize the needle and separate it from the haystack. Via magnets, you will find and recognize the needle, and still have the haystack. This is also how people recognize the risen Lord. The Lord uses magnets for us to sense and recognize His presence in our midst without destroying ourselves.”
Brothers and sisters, surely, we have heard of our gospel before and are familiar with such one of the great resurrection-story ever told. After the Risen Lord has revealed Himself to women & his disciples, here two disciples have encountered Him in person on the road to Emmaus. With Jesus on the road, they eventually recognize Him through various signs, attractions, and magnets.
Yes, our gospel today suggests us various signs that would point us to recognize or various magnets to attract us to the presence of the Risen Lord in our midst.
First, we may recognize the Risen Lord through our ordinary normal lives. He appears on their way back home with their life-griefs, struggles & defeats. In the same way, the Lord accompanies us in our day-to-day lives – especially whenever we invite Him to be with & be part of our ordinary lives in faith. We may also recognize the Risen Lord in our midst through the Holy Scripture.
Just like when he opened their minds to understand the Scripture concerning Himself, we can recognize the risen Lord whenever we read, reflect, and pray with the Scripture, as we understand the relevance of Jesus’ story in our own lives. We can recognize him further by welcoming a Stranger into our lives. Jesus sometimes crosses our path in a form of a stranger, especially those who are in need, asking us: “Have you anything to eat?” By reaching out and befriending with a stranger who sit with you in the tricycle or you meet along the way – especially the poor, we could have a glimpse of His presence.
We also recognize His presence in the Holy Eucharist. Whenever we attend mass, and whenever we eat with one another and with the Lord, we witness people gathered in faith to remember and celebrate the Last Supper of the Lord, his offering of sacrifice. Like the disciple, we recognize the Risen Lord through the breaking of the bread – the Holy Eucharist. Our gospel suggests also that we can recognize the Lord in and through the community of faith. The Risen Lord made himself known not only to them, but also within their community. We can recognize the Lord not in isolation or distancing but whenever we join and be involve in our faith-communities, whenever we participate in the activities of our parish or BECs.
And finally, the presence of the risen Lord can be recognized through the preaching and witness of His follower. Same way as the two disciples shared their faith-experience with others, whenever we proclaim and preach our faith, we his faithful become the representative of Jesus to other, that through our words and actions, people recognize the Risen Lord in our midst.
Let us rejoice & be glad then for the Lord has indeed risen. And gracefully, He has provided us enough means & magnets to recognize Him in our midst – accompanying us in our journey of life in faith.
May we continue to encounter & recognize Him in our Emmaus – our road to life & faith with Him who loves & saves us now & always.