Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A
Theme: “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:15-16)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday April 26 2020
Silence was shattered with a startling shriek from the darkness within: “Peek-a-boo!” Jumping back, I looked around for the speaker, but the small office was dark and empty this particular evening. Then it showed itself—orange bill sneering, plump yellow body perched on the desk’s edge. A talking duck had loudly welcomed me to the administrative assistant’s office. Needing to use the copier in the office, before even my hand had released the doorknob, the duck shrieked: “Peek-a-boo!” Silently watching over every move as I copied the materials at hand, the duck stood as a reminder of the unseen presence of God, who sees all, hears all, is always and everywhere present.
Today’s gospel passage asks us to consider the flip-side of the recognition theme. While God sees us at all times, are we able to see God always and everywhere present in the encounters and experiences of our lives? Some blessed people have had extraordinary moments of revelation when, in a flash, they knew that God was at their side. For most of us, though, the challenge is to see the God who hides behind faces so familiar, walks with us on roads so often trod. Can we see the God who is so familiar as to be invisible? Let a fictional story illustrate:
“The abbot of a monastery was at his wit’s end because the brothers in the community just couldn’t seem to get along with each other. Worse, no new members wanted to join because of their reputation for contentiousness, and now the community was dwindling to the point of extinction. In desperation, the abbot visited a wise rabbi and explained the situation to him, asking for advice. The rabbi answered, ‘Tell the brothers that the Messiah is among them.’
“Returning to the monastery, the abbot assembled the cantankerous community and told them, ‘Brothers, the rabbi told me that the Messiah is among us.’ Eyes wide with wonderment, they gazed from face to face, ‘Could it be Brother Edgar? He’s so forgetful but he has a heart of gold. Or maybe it’s Br. Simon? He’s ornery on the outside, but inside he’s mild as a lamb. Or what about Brother Gregory? He never finishes any job he starts, but he’s so much fun to be with.’ The brothers went down the list of community members wondering who was the one.
“And then, slowly, things began to change. They began to see the face of the Messiah in each other, and slowly they let go of fretting about the flaws, seeing only the best in faces so familiar. The community became caring and inviting, and soon new members were attracted to it once again.” (Original source unknown)
Today’s gospel passage relates that two of Jesus’ disciples were journeying to Emmaus soon after the event of the resurrection and, on that long road, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:15-16) It was only later, in the breaking of the bread at table, that recognition occurred. It was what he did at the table that revealed his identity. It was the piercing eyes of his attentive care that gave him away.
This story is so often ours, too, the presence of Jesus becoming known only after he’s been invisibly with us for some time on the long, weary road. Then suddenly some unforeseen event becomes like the duck’s shrieking “Peek-a-boo”—God tangibly at our very side.