It was embarrassing to hear the Catholic Governor of New York say of the pandemic: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that.” We did it, only us!! Another Governor, the fifth of the Roman province of Judea, was told: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” We know who said that.
The two disciples we see in the gospel today could have walked and talked for days and their sadness would never have changed. They didn’t have an understanding of the Scriptures. Christ walked with them and stayed with them and is willing to walk and stay with you as long as you want. He will not impose himself, even though he has this power. These two men, one who is not named, are won over by the Word and they are made one by it. The same can happen to us when we open our ear to what God is saying to us.
On the way to the funeral home this morning, a young father waved and said hello and was rather open to speaking. He said this isolation really woke him up. He is married with three kids and never had time for God or for matters of faith. Now he really sees the need. They were just so busy going from one thing to the next he missed the most important thing. He said he would call in a few days, or I will go look for him.
The disciples needed more instruction before they could recognize him. Only in the breaking of the bread did they see Christ. A priest was asked what was the most moving part of the Mass for him. He commented: “The breaking of the bread.” I never thought of this as anything special and yet symbolically it is meant to represent the broken body of Christ who through that death and resurrection saved us. The one you cannot see is always with you. His absence is not an absence.
Perhaps these days we have been walking along dead and sitting in our house depressed. These disciples were totally dead even when they were with Life itself. They were so shattered by the cross they forgot everything that Christ told them. Everything in Scripture speaks of him, but they didn’t make that connection. They only needed ears to listen. Let us pray that our ears will be opened, also those around us, and those who lead us. The first bishop who opened his churches recently said everything is upside down if we open liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries and churches are closed.
They didn’t believe but they touched, looked, examined Christ and came to believe and their hearts were strengthened by Christ and by his word. They drank from this font and burst forth and filled us as well.
Jesus is like a good parent in this gospel. He does not tire of hearing their story. “What things?” he asks, referring to his death. As if he didn’t know. He seemed to be saying, “I want to hear it from you.” He wants to hear from you what is making you sad. Don’t be afraid to tell him.
Peter in the second reading is speaking to those communities who are going through a tough time. He tells them that through these difficulties they can experience unspeakable joy, or feel sorry for themselves and fall back into the things of the flesh. But he encourages them to be in awe of what God is doing for them, and for us, especially during this time. Don’t be like the governor who relegates God to a corner.
Speak to him as a father who sees all of your deeds and live out this time of exile in praise of him. Life in this world, especially now is an exile. You were saved with the blood of Christ, not the blood of an animal. He didn’t come just to ransom us but to make us like him. He came to raise us up to be god-like. Enter his wounds these days like the apostles did and you will find peace. God raised up his Son so that you and I can have faith and hope in the Father. He will raise us also.