Third Sunday of Easter (José Antonio Pagola)

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Welcoming the power of the Gospel

Two of Jesus’ disciples are leaving Jerusalem.  They walk along sad and devastated.  The hope that they had placed in Jesus has been extinguished in their hearts when they saw him die on the cross.  But they keep thinking of him anyway. They cannot forget him.  Could it all have been a dream?

While they go along talking and discussing all they have been through, Jesus draws near and starts to walk with them.  But the disciples do not recognize him.  The Jesus in whom they had trusted so much and whom they have loved perhaps passionately now seems to be a stranger on the road.

Jesus joins the conversation.  The two others walking listen to him at first with surprise, but little by little something is awakening in their hearts.  They do not know exactly what.  Later on they will say: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way?”

They feel drawn by Jesus’ words.  At one point they need him to be with them. They do not want to him to leave: “Stay with us.”  During the meal, their eyes will be opened and they will recognize him.  This is the main message of the account:  when we welcome Jesus as a fellow wayfarer, his words can awaken in us the hope we lost.

In recent years, many people have lost their trust in Jesus.  Little by little he has become a stranger that they cannot recognize.  All that they know about him is what they can reconstruct in a partial and fragmentary way from what they have heard from preachers and catechists.

Without a doubt, the Sunday homily performs an irreplaceable task, but it turns out to be clearly not adequate to enable people today to come into direct and living contact with the Gospel.  With the way it is carried out in front of people that has to stay quiet and not bring out their concerns, questions and problems, it is hard for it to revive the wavering faith of so many people who earnestly want to meet Jesus, sometimes without them knowing it.

Isn’t it time to set up, outside the context of the Sunday Liturgy, a new and different space to listen together to Jesus’ Gospel?  Why not meet, we laity and priests, women and men, convinced Christians and people interested in the faith, to listen, share, dialogue and welcome Jesus’ Gospel?

We have to give the Gospel the chance to come, with all its transforming power, into direct and immediate contact with the problems, crises, fears and hopes of people today.  Soon, it will be too late for us to recover the original freshness of the Gospel.

José Antonio Pagola

May 4, 2014
3 Easter (A)
Luke 24, 13-35

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