April 23, 2023
Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Readings for Today
“But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.” Luke 24:21–23
The day on which our Lord rose from the dead, some of the women who had accompanied Him went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and found the tomb empty. An angel spoke to them of Jesus’ Resurrection and then these women went to tell the disciples what they saw. The reaction of the disciples is recorded this way: “but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.”
Later that day, two of those doubting disciples were traveling on foot to the town of Emmaus. As they traveled, they were “conversing and debating” about what had happened to Jesus and also about what these women reported to them. It is clear from their words that they were quite confused and discouraged about what was happening. They encountered our Lord in His public ministry. They had listened to His powerful teachings. They witnessed His miracles. They had hoped that He was the Messiah. But then they saw Him arrested, humiliated, beaten, crucified and killed. Jesus’ death took a serious toll on them and made them question their faith in Him. And even after they heard that He had risen, they couldn’t bring themselves to believe. Thus, they traveled the road to Emmaus—discouraged, confused and doubting.
As these disciples walked along, our Lord appeared to them, but they did not recognize Him in His resurrected form. They expressed their confusion to Him and Jesus finally said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” After Jesus went on and explained the Scriptures to them, they were hungry for more. They asked this stranger to stay with them and He did. That evening, Jesus broke bread with them, and in that sacramental act, they recognized Him before He vanished from their eyes.
We must see ourselves in these disciples. There are many things in life that can lead us to discouragement. When we strive to follow God’s will but find that things have not turned out how we expected, there is a temptation to doubt. Why is that? What is the cause of doubt? More than anything else, doubts and discouragement come from our failure to understand the perfect plan of God for our lives.
If these disciples had understood, from the beginning, all that Jesus explained to them on the road to Emmaus, they would not have despaired. They would not have lost hope. So also with us, when we begin to lose hope in our lives, it is primarily because we have failed to understand the divine plan for our lives correctly. We have failed to see that God permits certain things for His glory. He permits certain hardships to deepen our faith and trust in Him. When we fail to see His permissive will in all things, we will become discouraged and confused.
Reflect, today, upon these two disciples. They had the incredible privilege of spending much time with our Lord during His public ministry, seeing His miracles and hearing His sermons. But when the Cross ensued, they doubted and despaired. Let these disciples witness to you and reveal to you any ways that you fall into similar temptations. Do you have perfect hope in God and His plan for your life? Or do you allow the various crosses you endure to confuse you and lead you to doubt? Allow our Lord to appear to you through prayer and reveal to you His perfect plan. Be open to the gift of understanding by trusting that the wisdom of God will dispel every temptation you have toward doubt, replacing it with trust and hope.
Lord of perfect wisdom, Your plan for my life is perfect and glorious beyond imagination. Too often, I fail to understand Your will and fall into confusion and doubt. Please open my mind to Your truth and help me to see everything from Your perspective so that I will always walk with hope and trust in You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saints of the Day –
Saint Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday
Scripture Meditations for the Easter Season
Featured image above: Christ on the Road to Emmaus By anonymous, via Wikimedia Commons