Opening the Word: He opened their mind


Our familiarity with the resurrection of Jesus can be an impediment to reading the Gospels. He was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead, we confidently proclaim each Sunday.

Jesus in the Gospel of Luke asks us to consider anew how much we really understand about the Resurrection. The disciples have just heard from their two once-forsaken friends who were journeying to Emmaus. Along the way, they encountered Jesus — who they could not recognize at first. He made known to them why the Messiah must suffer and die and be raised from the dead, interpreting all the Law and the prophets. Then, he dined with them, taking bread, giving thanks, breaking it and giving it to them.

At this moment, their eyes were opened. They recognized him as the risen Lord. They run back to Jerusalem to tell their friends.

Notice that Jesus appears as they are telling their friends about their encounter. As they retell the story of salvation, the one they just heard from, Jesus himself, the resurrected Son of God, comes to bestow peace.

The reaction of the disciples is not overwhelming joy or amazement — as it often is in Luke — but terror. Who is this one? Is he a ghost?

There is something about the resurrected body of Jesus that does not make sense. The disciples cannot understand it. Jesus proves to them that it is a body like theirs, eating a piece of baked fish. The disciples can see his flesh and bones.

And yet what is observable to the human eye is not all there is to see. Jesus, just like he did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus, opens the Scriptures for them.

Israel’s great hope was for a redeemer, who would bring all the nations to Jerusalem. At last, they would be liberated from the totalitarian empire of Rome. At last, peace would dwell upon the earth as the great and righteous king reigned on Mount Zion.

No one could have imagined that this redeemer would reveal his power not through might, but through the cross. No one could have dreamed that this liberation from the darkness of sin and death would take place through death.

And now the time is at hand. All the nations must be invited to bend the knee before the risen Lord, to worship not an idol of power and prestige but the God who has enacted a great reversal through his death and resurrection.

“He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:52).

We may not have witnessed the moment of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we may not have been waiting outside the tomb, but we are still observers of Christ’s marvelous resurrection.

Look around, dear friends. We hear the Scriptures read in every corner of the world. We see the Eucharist consecrated on altars throughout the globe. We know the martyrs who witnessed to the love of Christ even unto their death. We see Our Lord in the poverty of the neighbor who cries out for a cup of cold water.

Christ opened the mind of the disciples both then and now to recognize the dawning rays of the revolution at hand. God came to conquer the world through the death of the beloved Son, a king who reigned from the wood of the tree, and who enlists subjects not into a military campaign but into the poverty of the kingdom of God.

On that first Easter Sunday, Christ opened the mind of the disciples to understand what took place through his death and resurrection.

And he still does.

April 18 – Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9; 1
Jn 2:1-5
Lk 24:35-48

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


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