The readings at Mass for this Wednesday of Easter Week are remarkably similar and different at the same time. The first has to do with Saints Peter and John curing a man who had been crippled from birth. Needless to say, he was enormously happy to be able to walk for the first time in his life, and not only does he walk, but he also goes jumping about in the temple in the sheer thrill of being able to do so. The second reading is from the gospel according to Saint Luke and is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It’s about the two disciples of Jesus on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus on that first Easter afternoon. They are despondent over the death of Jesus, especially since they had thought that he was the promised Messiah. He appears along the road, talks to them, but prevents them from recognizing him. He asks what they are talking about; in their sorrow, they pour out their disillusionment, their sense of failure at the bursting of their bubble.
Then, when they have finished their description of their sadness, this stranger with them begins to speak. He begins with Moses and explains all of scripture to them and shows them how it was foretold, and necessary, that the Savior would have to suffer and die for the salvation of the world. By now, they have arrived at the town to which they were going. And a terrific transformation is taking place in their minds, hearts, and emotions. This very well-informed stranger knows his scripture backwards and forwards, and he makes sense. They want to hear more; they desperately want to believe, to understand, to recover their lost faith and hope. And they say to him one of the simplest and yet most profound prayers in all of sacred history: “Stay with us, Sir. Night is falling.” He stays; they go in to have their supper, in the context of which he takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, gives it to them, and then vanishes. It was Jesus! They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. They are as happy in their newfound faith and hope as the formerly crippled man was in his ability to walk and jump. They go hurrying back to Jerusalem to report to the eleven apostles what they had seen and heard. The excitement, the joy, and gladness, the recovered hope—all of this is contained in this wonderful episode which so totally incarnates the spirit of Easter and the gloriously good news: Jesus is risen, Jesus lives! Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown., O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.