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The Third Sunday of Easter [A]

First Reading Acts 2:14, 22-28
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:17-21
Gospel Luke 24:13-35

“That very day, the first day of the week….” This is the day of Easter Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection. Though we are living two weeks after Easter Sunday, the Church continues to meditate on that Day which is the heart of the Easter Season.

On that Easter Sunday, “two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus….” These two disciples are us: all of us who are disciples of Jesus, and who at times wander away from God. These two particular disciples are walking away from Jerusalem, away from the scene of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection. They are moving on with their lives. Though they have heard rumors of a vision announcing that Jesus had risen from the dead, these two disciples obviously haven’t put much faith in the story, since they’re walking away from Jerusalem, away from any chance of seeing this risen Jesus.

How often are we, like these two, lukewarm in our faith. Rather than holding fast to our faith and making it the center of our lives, we so often walk away from opportunities to meet Jesus face-to-face. We hear that these two were “conversing and debating… about all the things that had occurred,” but nonetheless, they are walking away from the city that symbolizes the center of their faith.

And yet… while these two doubting disciples were walking away from Jerusalem, what happened? “Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them….” Here we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Next Sunday we will hear Jesus use the image of the Good Shepherd to help us understand that His mission on earth is to seek out those who have wandered from His care. But today, we see Jesus living out this Mission. We see Jesus acting as the Good Shepherd. How many thousands of His sheep are waiting for Him within the gates of Jerusalem, waiting in faith for Him to appear to them in His Risen Flesh. Yet here is Jesus, seven miles out of His Way in order to bring just two wandering disciples back into the fold.

As we read and re-read today’s Gospel passage, we should take comfort if we are Christians who sometimes wander away from Him and His teachings. The patience, compassion, and love which He is showing to these two doubting disciples are the same gifts He offers us always, no matter how far we may wander from Him.