Easter – third Sunday
“Jesus drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
Now, isn’t that an interesting scenario. Clopas and the other disciple couldn’t recognize Jesus. Before I go on, I want to speculate something about the other disciple. Here’s a clue. One of the Mary’s at the foot of the cross was the wife of Clopas. It is probable that the unnamed disciple here was Mary, the wife of Clopas. It is also possible that Mary is unnamed in this story so that you and I can identify with her. The unnamed disciple can also be the reader.
So Clopas and the other disciple don’t recognize Jesus. There he was. Resurrected from the dead. Walking with them, and they didn’t recognize him. Do you ever wonder why this is?
Well, this is what I want to talk about tonight. How to discover what prevents us from recognizing Jesus and what will help us to overcome that little problem. Actually, it is a big problem, as we are about to see.
The first issue is that Jesus is veiled supernaturally from them. They are prevented. Most of the resurrection appearances have him cloaked in mystery at first, and then only through a gradual recognition or through signs are the disciples then able to recognize him.
In Clopas and the other disciple’s case, Jesus points out a few things to them. Let’s consider the words of Jesus to them for a moment.
After they tell the resurrected Jesus the story of the death of the Jesus as they knew him, He had this to say. Listen.
Oh how foolish you are.
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.
Here Jesus shows them two problems that they have.
How foolish. The problem here is one of ignorance. In fact, foolishness and ignorance often go hand in hand. We often consider older people wiser because – they have been educated by life. We presume they have learned life’s lessons and know how to do the right things. Whereas youth and foolishness go hand in hand because of lack of experience or ignorance. So what were Clopas and the other disciple ignorant of? Well, this is where Jesus gave them a crash course in sacred scripture. It says that Jesus explained all that refered to him in Moses and all the prophets.
Which brings up an interesting point for us today. Ask yourself this question. How educated am I in holy scripture? How educated am I in the teaching of the church? How educated am I in the sacred tradition of the Church? You know, a lot of Catholics kind of just stopped learning these things after 8th grade and the sacrament of Confirmation. As if that were enough. Or we have been rather spotty in our study of the things of God. Ask yourself another question. Would Jesus consider me wise? Or foolish if he appeared to me? Could I even recognize him?
Another problem. Slow of heart to believe.
Jesus himself predicted for them over and over that he would rise from the dead. He kept telling his disciples of the kind of kingdom he wanted to inaugurate. But they had other ideas – mostly take Jesus’ words on face value. Whatever the problem they had blocked themselves from believing Jesus words about his own resurrection. Which makes one wonder what other problems in belief that they had.
And these were two disciples who stayed pretty close to Jesus – and if it were Mary, right at the foot of the cross.
Which makes you and me wonder. What are our problems with belief in the words of Jesus? His promises in scripture. His miracles. His teachings about how we are to live?
So many catholics think they can just pick and choose what to believe and reject from the deposit of faith in sacred scripture, apostolic teaching, and sacred tradition. We can be very slow to believe – especially in the most challenging teachings of our faith. Where are you stuck?
Their foolishness and their slowness to believe, I think, blocked them from seeing Christ.
So what changed it for them?
Three things really.
The first thing that changed it for them was the very presence of Christ. Whether they recognized him or not he was walking with them and listening to their story. And so we must also recognize through faith that Jesus also walks with us, whether we recognize his presence or not. He is with us. And his presence changes everything.
The second thing that changed it for them was sacred scripture. Jesus opened the scriptures to them, explaining it to them so that they could understand. And he shows us clearly that in order for us to overcome foolishness we MUST be educated in knowledge of our faith. Therefore we must learn scripture. We must learn the teaching of the Church. We must learn the sacred tradition of the Church. It is through these means that Christ himself teaches us what we need to know so that we can recognize him.
The third things that changed it for them was the Eucharist. It was in the breaking of the bread that Jesus, in that moment, was unveiled. They could finally see him and recognize his presence. In that moment, he vanished. In that moment, their unbelief was overcome and they could see him. This leads each believer to contemplate the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Which is why Adoration is such a significant prayer. Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist leads us to a greater belief in his true presence. And where our belief is strengthened we can perceive him more and more clearly. Both in the breaking of the bread and in so many other ways.
Which leads us to the end result of growing in knowledge of faith and in strength of belief. It leads us into the heart of Communion. Clopas and the other disciple rushed back to Jerusalem – right to the apostles. The center of the Church Jesus established. They were in communion with the apostles and with the Lord, who had appeared also to the eleven.
And isn’t that what we ultimately want? To see Jesus? Oh that we are granted the wisdom and belief to see Jesus. Are not our hearts burning within us?