“Do Your Homework!” by Michael Guarducci, Fiat Ventures

“Do Your Homework!” by Michael Guarducci, Fiat Ventures

Third Sunday of Easter

Can you believe it’s already the third Sunday of Easter? Can you believe it’s been two weeks already? Can you believe April is already over? Obviously, the answer is yes; just look at a calendar. But we don’t just accept what we see; we remember the weeks and months leading up to today. It’s just that a lot has happened, very quickly, and sometimes it takes a while for all of that information to sink in.

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke shows another time where so much has happened, in such a short amount of time, and some people just couldn’t believe it. Here we find two followers of Christ, on the road to Emmaus, who do not yet know the whole story. All they know is that their leader, their hero, their savior has been killed. And not just killed, but beaten, tortured, humiliated in public for all the world to see. The disappointment, the defeat, the confusion and anger they must have felt, only knowing the pain of Good Friday.

It seems as though the two have spent the weekend going through the five stages of grief, and have finally reached acceptance, when Christ Himself appears besides them. But how did they not know it was Him? The Gospel says that “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him,” but what does this mean? There are many paintings, over the centuries that depict Jesus as wearing a hood, but let’s be honest; that wouldn’t fool anyone! Had His appearance changed? Had he already taken on the appearance that St. John describes in Revelations, where “his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow,” making Him seem much older than His thirty-three years? I like to think that He looked just the same as He always had, He just didn’t want them to see Him, until they were ready.

Here we see a little bit of Jesus’ sense of humor, feigning ignorance of what everyone else seemed to know. The two disciples tell Jesus the whole story, not just of the Christ’s own passion, but also of His supposed resurrection; they have already heard about the women and later the apostles finding the empty tomb, as well as the appearance of angels. Basically, the two already know about Easter Sunday, but hadn’t accepted it, yet.

How often do we hear about the joy of Christ’s resurrection, of God’s forgiveness & love for us? How often do we see the good in those around us, and we just refuse to accept it? It must be a trick, it can’t be that easy, it’s too good to be true. Jesus could have revealed Himself, right there & then, but rather, like any good teacher, He calls them out for not doing their homework; ” ‘Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”

Too many people had the same reaction as St. Thomas, they refuse to believe until they see irrefutable proof.  But these two kept an open mind and an open heart, as they listened to this wise stranger point out what they should have already known, both from scripture and from what Christ Himself told everyone would happen.

They were so moved by this stranger’s words that they invited Him to dinner, and here we see Jesus’ sense of humor, again when, “he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.”   I always imagine that right before He disappeared, Jesus smiled at them, seeing the look of simultaneous shock & recognition on their faces. He helped them along, and gave them the final push, but they had passed the test, and He knew that they now believed, without seeing, and as a reward, allowed them to see and believe.

Fast forward to these two disciples’ reunion with the others, and we find that Christ had also appeared to Simon Peter, who we later see in his sermon in The Acts of the Apostles, and in his first epistle, using the same method of persuasion that Christ used on the road to Emmaus; do your homework, read the Old Testament to fully understand the New Testament; “He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

God had been telling us for thousands of years, both B.C. and A.D. exactly what would happen. But we now know that it’s not too good to be true. We know that He has revealed Himself through Christ, and we know that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are with us, all the days of our lives.  Jesus Christ is always on the path beside us; we may not always recognize Him, and He may reveal Himself gradually, but when we are ready He will be there, patiently smiling at our looks of recognition as it slowly dawns on us that He has been right there with us, the whole time.  Even if we haven’t done our homework.

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