Homily – April 30, 2017

We can hear the disappointment in the voices of the two men going home to Emmaus after their Passover celebration in Jerusalem. They are telling their stranger companion about what happened in Jerusalem during the past days. Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word was brought down by the power people in the city, the temple priests. They had Jesus condemned and crucified.

Then they spoke of the own disappointment. They’d hope that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. They hoped Jesus would be the one who would turn things around, bring about the end of Roman control over their lives and bring them freedom. Their dreams went up in smoke. Some hysterical women were claiming Jesus was alive, but that was nonsense.

As Jesus carried his cross thru the streets of Jerusalem he was mocked and tormented by people along the way. How many of them had that same hope that Jesus, the teacher and wonder worker from Nazareth would be the one to redeem Israel shattered. They were frustrated and angry with Jesus whom they now saw as a fraud, a preacher who built them up only to let them down. They vent their anger at him as he struggled under the burden of the cross he carried.

In our time how many good men and woman have had their faith shattered if not destroyed when a bishop or a priest or a famous Evangelical preacher brought shame and embarrassment on their faith community by their sinful behavior. Their leader, their ideal let them down and like the men from Emmaus these good people walk away from it all. They’ve lost trust.

In the gospel these two despondent men are blessed by this stranger catching up with them and walking with them. He was a man who knew his scriptures and shared his knowledge with them. He tried to help them see that through the ages the prophets taught that the Christ, the Messiah was bound to suffer a fate like Jesus and so enter into his glory.

This stranger accepted their hospitality and shared a meal with them. He took the bread from the table blessed it, broke it and offered it to his hosts and with a graced insight they recognized the risen Jesus in that ordinary ritual of breaking and sharing bread.

Can we imagine that this resurrection story is a metaphor of how God deals with a man or a woman struggling with their faith, with their relationship with the church? Christ comes to us in and through other people and surprises us with acts of kindness and words of understanding and support. We experience the ‘breaking of the bread’ in and through the words and actions of loving and supporting people. We are all on a journey, a journey of faith, a journey that can lead us to deepening of our relationship with Jesus our Christ, a journey that can lead to a deepening of our relationship with our church.

On our journey we meet others and they meet us.

As we celebrate our own ‘breaking of the bread’ at this Mass may we always be there for family members and friends who are struggling with their faith in Christ and his church and at the same time be open to the example and support other people offer us as we try to grow ever more deeply in the life that is ours through the Passion Death and Resurrection of Jesus our Christ.