Preacher’s Sketchbook: Third Sunday of Easter

April 28, 2014

Preacher’s Sketchbook:

Sketchbook_Logo6Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Saint Augustine, Exposition of Psalm 34

Was it food Christ wanted, when he looked for fruit on the tree; and if he had found any, would he have eaten it? And was it water Christ wanted, when he said to the Samaritan woman, Give me a drink, and on the cross, I am thirsty (Jn 4:7; 19:28)? What does Christ hunger for, what does he thirst for? Our good actions. He found none in those who crucified and hounded him, so he had to stay fasting then, for they supplied nothing but sterility to his soul. What a fast it was for him! He found barely one robber to taste on the cross. The apostles had fled and disappeared into the crowd. Even Peter, who had promised to be faithful to the point of dying with his Lord, had already denied him three times, and wept, and was now lurking among the mob, still afraid of being recognized. In the end, when they saw him dead, all of them despaired even of salvation; but after his resurrection he came and sought them out in their despair, and talked with them as they mourned and grieved, bereft of hope. This was the state of some of them who conversed with him along the road. He asked them, What are you discussing between you? They were talking about him. They replied, Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem not to know what the priests and our leaders did to Jesus of Nazareth, who was so powerful in deed and word? How they crucified and killed him? And we had been hoping that he was the one to redeem Israel (Lk 24:18-21). The Lord would have been forced to endure a grueling fast had he not been able to refresh those he meant to swallow up. But refresh them he did; he comforted them, strengthened them, and transformed them into his own body.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part II

[The Emmaus story] ends with Jesus sitting down to table with the disciples, taking the bread, giving thanks and praise, breaking the bread, and giving it to the two of them. At this moment their eyes are opened, “and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Lk 24:31). The Lord sits at table with his disciples as before, with thanks and praise and breaking of bread. Then he vanishes from their outward view, and through this vanishing their inner vision is opened up: they recognize him. It is real table fellowship, and yet it is new. In the breaking of the bread he manifests himself, yet only in vanishing does he become truly recognizable.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part II

The Lord is drawing the disciples into a new covenant-fellowship with him and with the living God; he is giving them a share in real life, making them truly alive and salting their lives through participation in his Passion, in the purifying power of his suffering. What this table fellowship with the disciples actually looked like is beyond our powers of imagination. But we can recognize its inner nature, and we can see that in the worshipping community, in the celebration of the Eucharist, this table fellowship with the risen Lord continues, albeit in a different form.

Benedict XVI, God is Near Us

The Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. The Jews saw this as the day on which the world was created. For Jesus’ disciples, it became the day on which a new world began, the day when, with the breaking of hte bonds of death, the new creation had its beginning. It was the day on which Jesus Christ entered the world anew as the Risen One… Sunday, as the day of the Resurrection, became the inner basis, the inner point of location, for the eucharistic celebration of the developing Church. It was on this basis that its shape developed.

Pope Francis, Meeting with Bishops of Brazil, July 27, 2013

Let us read once again, in this light, the story of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-15). The two disciples have left Jerusalem. They are leaving behind the “nakedness” of God. They are scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day (vv. 17-21). Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age. It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice. Faced with this situation, what are we to do? We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.


Sunday Preacher’s Resource

Third Sunday of Easter (2008)


Third Sunday of Easter

Additional Preaching Resources

Image: Fra Angelico, Christ Pilgrim Received by Two Dominicans

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