Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (Cycle A)
Today’s readings appear to be raising vital questions pertaining to the Christian spirituality we are supposed to have professed and to be practicing in our lives:
How often do we really desire participating in the Eucharistic meal?
Is it an urge or prompting we discern to be occurring regularly, even daily? Or is it an empty feeling, leaving us consciously satisfied with performing the ‘minimum compliance’ of attending Masses only on Sundays?
If we think and say our Lord is so important to our everyday existence, if truly we believe “our hearts are burning within us”, then should we not be coming to him more frequently, arriving dutifully on time every time to encounter his Word in the breaking of the bread?
In these most uncertain times, is it not appropriate we resolve this Easter to try to start participating in the celebration of daily Mass?
The two great Apostles spoke to us most solemnly about the Christ, and his commitment to be with us, for the rest of our days. Paul focuses on the salvific aspects of the divine Presence, about how he liberates and raises us from corruptibility to incorruptibility, as we struggle through the years “in a strange land”: We “were freed from the useless way of life … with the precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish. … Through him, we have faith in God, who raised him from the dead, and glorified him, in order that we might put all our faith and hope in God.”
On the other hand, Peter, referring to the words of David on the occasion of the Pentecost, stresses the fraternal aspects of the divine Presence, about how our Lord is determined to accompany us in the struggle: “I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is by my side, that I may not be shaken. Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body, too, will live in hope. Because you will not forsake me in the abode of the dead, nor allow your Holy One to experience corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, and your presence will fill me with joy.”
But our participation in the Mass, our approaching and our being with the Lord, must not be a mindless participation. We must not dwell too much upon the matters and concerns we daily face, constantly thinking we have been left alone and made distant from him, when we have already been brought by the Spirit into his Presence. From the beautiful tale of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we clearly learn that amid such turmoil, it is the Lord himself who appears, and who initiates companionship, “Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them, but their eyes were not able to recognize him.”
So, we must carefully consider a mindful participation, a deliberate preparedness to meet him halfway. We may fail to recognize him in his Word, “How dull we are, how slow of understanding!” Consequently, we may fail to recognize him even in the breaking of the bread, for is it not true that the meal of the sacrifice makes full sense only in the light of its truth? We have a responsibility to discern him whom we love, and to remember the sufferings he endured in order to overcome death with life. We also have a responsibility to unconditionally respond to Love with love, to the intuition that his mission has become ours.
Then, and only then will we be able to sincerely exclaim, “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen!”
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.