A HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER – CYCLE “A” – APRIL 26TH 2020 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
We have many different ways of recognizing people that we know, and remembering them. There are just certain characteristics that we remember about different people and that we identify with them. Sometimes, it’s their haircut. Just look at President Trump. Not too many people have a haircut like that. And sometimes it’s a person’s ears, or nose, or chin. I mean, remember President Obama’s ears? You could see Obama’s ears from a mile away, and it would be like finding, “Where’s Waldo?”. He had very distinctive ears. Sometimes it’s a person’s body shape. Notice, that I didn’t say “fat or skinny”, I said their body shape. Sometimes, we even recognize somebody from the clothes that they wear. I used to have this coach that always wore track suits. So I ran into him at a funeral, and he was wearing a real suit and a tie. And I had to think for a minute, who is this guy? He looked so different. And sometimes, we can even recognize someone by the way that they smell, their scent, whether that be good, or bad.
Whatever way that we use to recognize people, if you change something about them and make it different, it can make it much harder for us to recognize. For example, give person a different haircut, or have them lose a bunch of weight, or have them get really tanned, or even change the kind of clothes they wear or type of cologne or perfume that they wear, and all of a sudden, it gets harder to recognize them.
One of the things that we notice about the resurrection narratives, or accounts, in all four of the Gospels, is that after Jesus was raised from the dead, there was something very different about the way that He appears. We heard this on Easter with Mary Magdalene, who thought He was the gardener. And Mary Magdalene knew Jesus well. Why was she confused? What was different about Him? We know that when He appeared to the Apostles in the upper room last week, the Gospel writer makes a specific point to say that they didn’t ask who He was, that they presumed that it was the Lord. Well, what was it, that so different about His appearance that the Gospel writer even has to mention this? And finally today, the two apostles are on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus comes up them, and they don’t recognize Him either. Again, these are two men who would have spent a great deal of time with Jesus and who would have known very well what He looked like. Why didn’t they recognize Him? Until they got, to the breaking of the Bread?
We’ve got to be able to say, that the Risen Jesus, in His Glorified Body, seems to have the ability to change His appearance. He doesn’t always look the same. He can have the nail wounds in His hands and feet, and the wound in His side, as He did last week with the Apostles, or maybe He didn’t have those wounds, as He did not, apparently, in some of the other Resurrection appearances. At least the scriptural testimonies don’t mention the wounds, in other accounts. For example, today, the two on the road to Emmaus, they don’t see holes in Jesus’s hands. Maybe He had gloves on. Or maybe, this Glorified Body can appear anyway that He wants it to appear. Clearly, there’s something about Jesus that has changed, when He comes back. He’s harder to recognize.
Let’s fast forward to 2020. Jesus is still Risen from the dead. He is very much alive. He has ascended to Heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father, His Father and Our Father, we’re going to pray that prayer in just a little while. And Jesus still loves to make little appearances in the world today. He comes to us hiding in so many different disguises. Mother Teresa used to talk about Him hiding in the “distressing disguise” of the poor. But make no mistake about it, if you are looking for Jesus today, and you’re ONLY, ONLY, looking for a white guy, with a beard, and long hair, and the robes of a carpenter, and holes in His hands and feet? You are NOT going to find Him. Jesus is there in our lives and in our world, hiding in so many different people. Our job, the great trick of Christianity, is for us to see Him, recognize Him, and we’ve got to better at this.
How many times, my dear brothers and sisters, does Jesus come to us, just like He came to the Apostles on the Road to Emmaus? They were just walking along. They didn’t expect it. And bam! There was Jesus! How many times, every day, does Jesus come to us, in just as surprising ways? Maybe it’s as a screaming child, or as a complaining spouse, or as a co-worker who talks all the time, or as a neighbor who’s all up in your business, or as a priest that haranguing you about not being an average Catholic! We’ve got to see beyond all that bugs us, and drives us crazy, and gets on our nerves, to see Jesus! Today in our story, the two Apostles come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. This reminds us, that we as Catholic Christians should be better at this than most, because if we can see Jesus hiding in bread and wine, we should more easily recognize Him in other people. The Eucharist, the Mass, is perfect preparation for all of us, for finding Him hiding in our brothers and sisters! Remember when Jesus said, “When you did it for the least of your brothers and sisters, you did for Me!” The Resurrected Jesus is always surprising, even two-thousand years later! How’s He going to appear in your life today?
So, let us NOT be surprised or taken back. Jesus is not dead. That’s exactly what we are continuing to celebrate as a Church, even through a Coronavirus pandemic. Jesus is very much alive and showing up all the time in our journeys. But will we recognize Him? that’s the question!
+ May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!!