Recognizing the Lord
Jesus’ disciples had locked themselves in a place for fear of the Jews. The Jews had put their Master to death, and it is quite possible that the Jews would do the same to them. However, the risen Christ appeared to the disciples who had deserted Him, and His first words to them were: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, 21) Jesus came to His disciples in order to dispel their fears and to bring peace to their troubled minds and hearts. Now, that was an act of mercy.
In the Gospel of Luke, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, a little village of no significance. They were talking and debating, unsure of what to make of the empty tomb and the vision of angels reported by the women at the tomb. Their minds were filled with questions because they didn’t see the liberation of Israel from the Roman occupation: did the mission of Jesus fail or had they been mistaken in their expectations about Jesus?
Suddenly, Jesus joined them on the road. As they continued walking together, the two disciples have yet to realize that the man they were talking to was Jesus Himself. But the explanation of the scriptures by Jesus kindled a burning fire in their hearts. When they sat down at supper, Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them. It was only then that they realized that the stranger was Jesus. The risen Christ was manifested to the two disciples in the breaking of the bread.
Without a doubt, the story’s main theme is about recognizing the Lord; not so much in His resurrected Body, but in the scriptures and in the Eucharist. The Gospel of Luke was written in about 80AD, and by that time there was already some kind of Eucharistic liturgy in the early church. These liturgies included reading scripture, reciting prayers and the breaking of the bread. Luke spoke to a generation of Christians who never saw Jesus with their own eyes; but although they had not seen Him, they believed.
We, too, have not seen Jesus in person, and yet we believe. Jesus is not merely alive and seated at some distant heavenly throne, but His living presence is experienced all over the world in the proclamation of the Word, in the Eucharistic celebrations and in the living witness of Christians. Our personal witness to others is the way in which we can retell the story of the risen Christ. Jesus changed our lives; He can change their lives as well.
The Bishops of Atlanta and Savannah have decided that all churches are to remain closed to the public until further notice. As we take sensible measures to protect everyone from the spread of the coronavirus, be assured that our church community is here to help if you have material or spiritual needs. Private Masses will continue to be offered for your intentions. If you need to go to confession or for all other requests, please contact Fr. Bill.
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