Collect of the Day:
Father in heaven, author of all truth, a people once in darkness has listened to your Word and followed your Son as he rose from the tomb.
Hear the prayer of this newborn people and strengthen your Church to answer your call. May we rise and come forth into the light of day to stand in your presence until eternity dawns.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 2:14,22-28 It was impossible for him to be held by the power of Hades.
Second Reading: I Peter 1:17-21 The ransom that was paid to free you was the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Luke: 24:13-35 They had recognised Him at the breaking of the bread.
Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke. It is a story familiar to most Chrsitians the walk to Emmaus. This charming story is one of the best loved of all the Resurrection narratives. Two of Jesus’s Disciples were on their way to Emmaus which we are told was seven miles from Jerusalem. On this journey they meet the Risen Christ but are prevented from recognising Him. Though on a close inspection of the Gospels (Mt. 28:17, Jn. 20:14, 21:4) we see that on a number of occasions the Risen Jesus was not recognised at first.
So it was in this instance, after spending quite a time travelling with Jesus and discussing His Passion and the women’s report of His Resurrection and with Jesus Himself explaining all the Messianic references to Himself written in the Hebrew Scriptures from Moses through all the Prophets, they did not recognise Him until the breaking of the bread. This may seem incredible to some modern readers for Jesus’s friends and followers not to know when He was in their midst. But it makes me wonder how many times that we can be caught up with our own agendas and miss encounters with the Risen Christ in our own lives.
When I think about this I am reminded of a story in the life of St. Francis of Assisi when he met a leper in the road. Now Francis had quite an aversion to lepers from his youth and was repulsed by the person he was approaching his first instinct was to turn his horse around and flee. Yet, something within him “went against grain” and he allowed the leper to draw closer, then, as if he were a puppet on a string, he found himself climbing down from his horse, going up to the leper and embracing him.
A further legend has him looking back after he remounted his horse and seeing that the leper had vanished. Then he had realised that it was Christ Himself that he had met and embraced. Many years later as he lay dying, Francis would recall this pivotal moment. “When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company and I had pity on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. After that, I did not wait long before leaving the world.”
As we can see what a grace he would have missed if he had followed his natural instincts. In Genesis we are told that all Humanity is made Imagio Dei, in the Image of God. So we have many chances each day to see Jesus, to see the Divine in all whom we meet. Yes even those we do not like very much, or those who have differing opinions from our own.
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:32: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” So it is my prayer for today that God will open my eyes and yours like He did with the Disciples at the “Breaking of the Bread” and St. Francis on the road with the Leper. To be more open to the Risen Jesus within our own lives and communities.
Lord God, grant your people constant joy in the renewed vigour of their souls. They rejoice because you have restored them to the glory of adopted children: let them look forward gladly in the certain hope of Resurrection.
We make our prayer through Our Lord Jeus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. World without end. Amen.