Cycle (A) 3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Pt 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35

There is a gripping story of a traveller who was walking along the road one day when a man on horseback rushed by. There was an evil look in his eyes and blood on his hands. Minutes later a crowd of riders drew up and wanted to know if the traveller had seen someone with blood on his hands go by. They were in hot pursuit of him. "Who is he?"
the traveller asked. "An evil-doer," said the leader of the crowd. "And you pursue him in order to bring him to justice?" asked the traveller. "No," said the leader, "we pursue him in order to show him the way." (Fr. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1990), p. 65.) The picture we have in the Bible is of a God who pursues us so that God may show us the way. From the time of the fall of Adam and Eve, God has been chasing mankind. God chased mankind through the Patriarchs. God chased mankind through the Judges. God chased mankind through His prophets. Finally God chased mankind through His son. Even after the resurrection Jesus continued His chase. He travelled with the disciples. They do not recognize him, but it is he who takes the initiative. He walks with them and interprets Scripture for them.

The risen Lord meets us on the road to our Emmaus, in the ordinary experiences of our lives, and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us. We, too, have hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and better family relationships. These often get shattered. The story warns us, however, that the risen Lord will come to us when we least expect him and in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us. Emmaus moments come to us when we meet the risen Christ on our life’s journey.

The meeting of Jesus was a life changing experience for the two disciples. In history we see many people whose life has been changed by unexpected events. The Uttara Khanda, tells the story of Valmiki's early life, a highway robber named Valya Koli, who used to rob people after killing them. Once, the robber tried to rob the divine sage Narada for the benefit of his family. Narada asked him if his family would share the sin he was incurring due to the robbery. The robber replied positively, but Narada told him to confirm this with his family. The robber asked his family, but none agreed to bear the burden of sin. Dejected, the robber finally understood the truth of life and asked for Narada's forgiveness, and meditated for many years, so much so that ant-hills grew around his body. Finally, a divine voice declared his penance successful, bestowing him with the name "Valmiki": "one born out of ant-hills" According to the legend, one unexpected question shook his life, and transformed a robber into a sage. The ambitious dreams  of Francis Xavier to shine in the world over as one of the most intellectual luminaries were thwarted by the famous words of Jesus "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he looses his own soul?", repeatedly sounded into his ears by Ignatius de Loyola.  That was a life changing experience for Francis Xavier. Representing the Jesuits, he landed in Goa, and spent his days nursing the sick and teaching them Christian doctrine.  "Build a Man a Fire, and He'll Be Warm for a Day. Set a Man on Fire, and He'll Be Warm for the Rest of His Life." Says the proverb.  That is what Ignatius de Loyola did to Francis Xavier. That is what Jesus did to the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus.

The Gospel says that their heart burned within them as he talked to them.  The word of God should burn the heart of everyone who reads it. Our tradition teaches us that the reading of the Scriptures is the primary ways in which we meet God.  Abraham Lincoln said: “The greatest gift that God gave to human beings is the Bible.”  We should make use of this gift.  Study the Bible, learn the Bible, memorize the Bible and meditate on the word of God. It will burn our hearts. In that fire the goodness in us will be enkindled and the evil in us will be consumed.