On Wednesday night of our mission at St.Charles Borromeo, in Port Charlotte, Florida, I preached on the Resurrection of Jesus. It’s a mystery that predicts our future.
Recent scriptural studies have made us aware that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were originally meant for particular churches and situations, and so when we read them it’s good to keep in mind the world and circumstances behind each one. Each gospel offers its own unique insight into mysteries of Jesus, and to gain that insight we have to resist our tendency to harmonize one gospel with the others.
Luke’s account of the resurrection of Jesus centers around the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Like the other gospels, Luke begins with the women at the tomb that Easter morning, but the Risen Jesus does not stay at the tomb. The Lord engages the world at large and shares his risen life with his disciples and all creation.
In his gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, Luke shows God’s plan of salvation being realized in the person and life of Jesus and then extended to all humanity in his church as its spreads from Jerusalem to Rome, which was then considered the center of the world.
He offers the journey of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus as a way to understand the church’s journey through time. Just as he did with the two disciples, the Risen Lord walks with his church on its mission through the ages.
It’s not an easy journey. Like that of the two disciples, it’s not a triumphant march. It’s marked by disillusionment, by questions and gradual enlightenment, as their journey was. If the Risen Lord were not with them as they left Jerusalem at the end of the Passover feast, they would have ended up hopeless. The church would fall into hopelessness too, if he were not with her.
Like the two disciples we find the Risen Christ slowly in the scriptures and in the breaking of the bread. Like them, he makes our hearts burn within.
Luke’s resurrection account offers us a way to look at the church today. It’s a good corrective to a triumphalistic view that expects the church to be perfect. It isn’t. It’s also a good corrective to a perfectionistic view of ourselves.
Like the two disciples, we have our questions and suffer our disappointments, but the Risen Christ walks with us. He engages our questions and helps us to understand. He is present in the breaking of the bread, the Holy Eucharist. We don’t see him; he has vanished from our sight, but he is with us. We can rejoice in the Risen Lord with us and guiding us to his kingdom.