April 19, 2015
3rd Sunday of Easter
35 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. 36. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37. But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39. Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." 40. And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42. They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." 45. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48. You are witnesses of these things.”
Last week’s gospel was taken from John’s account of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after the resurrection. In that text Jesus appeared to the disciples twice. The first time Thomas was not present. The second time Thomas was present. The text for this week is from Luke’s account. As we gather to hear the gospel for today we are three weeks from our celebration of Easter. The different gospel texts that we have heard on Easter and last Sunday could give the impression that the time line of the gospels parallels our own time line since Easter, but that is not the case. Here Luke is describing events that took place soon after Jesus’ appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32). As Luke describes the encounter of the two disciples with Jesus, he tells his readers that it was on “that very day” that women, Peter and the beloved disciple had all been to the tomb and discovered it empty. Today’s gospel text follows the account of the events both while on the road to Emmaus and during that night when they finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The first line of the gospel, referring to the disciple, tells of those events and is therefore understood to be taking place the day following the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus.
The text describes Jesus’ appearance to a rather sizable gathering of disciples. In verses 33-34, not part of the text for today, Luke states, “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!’” Jesus greets them with the customary greeting of the day “Peace be with you.” They are startled and terrified and even thought that Jesus might be a ghost. Jesus first tries to assure them that he is real by inviting them to touch him and then by eating fish. Having reassured them of his corporal reality, Jesus reassures them that he was truly the promised one. He points to passages in the Law, the Prophets and Psalms that point to his suffering and death. Their minds are opened to the profound meaning of their religious tradition. Luke does not tell the reader which passages Jesus referred to that day. He does state that Jesus made clear to them that they were witnesses to the events that had taken place in their midst. This commission to witness has been fulfilled already by the fact that two of them had returned from Emmaus with the news of what had taken place there.
1. Can you think of times in your life when you were experiencing a variety of emotions? Possible examples:
- Going to your first real job.
- Considering moving on from a relationship.
- Admitting to yourself that I can not handle a situation without help.
2. What would have been some of the emotions of the disciples as they heard the two who had come from Emmaus tell of their experience? What questions might have gone through their mind?
3. Do you think that Jesus was upset with the disciples when He asked, "Why are you troubled and why do questions arise in your hearts?”
4. Do you ever think that God is disappointed in you because you are troubled or have questions?
5. How does having questions or being troubled affect your relationship with those close to you? Is that also true for your relationship with God?
6. Can you recall other times in Jesus’ life when he invites or permits others to touch him? Have you ever longed to touch Jesus? How might Jesus be inviting you touch him? Do you think that Jesus wants you to know that his is real?
7. Are there people in your parish, community, family who need to know that Jesus is real? How might they experience the reality of Jesus’ presence in their life?
8. At the end of the gospel text, Jesus tells them “you are witnesses to these things.” What do you think Jesus meant by that statement? Do you think they understood that? Do you hear that Jesus is saying that to you, too?
Reflection questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.
They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF. and Joe Thiel.
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A Spanish translation of the reflection questions is made possible by Fernando Alessandrini.
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