Saturday, May 3, 2014

Homily (2) 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Pet 1:17-21 and Luke 24:13-35

Recognizing Christ Who Walks The Path Of Life With Us

Today we are called to celebrate and recognize Christ who walks with us on our journeys. He shows us the Path of life (Ps 16:11a). In the readings of today we are invited to imitate the Disciples of Christ: Peter, Cleopas and his companion, the Eleven and those women and mothers who not only stood at the foot of the divine cross but were the first at the empty tomb to recognize the truth and the redeeming effects of the resurrection of Christ. When and where do we recognize the redeeming power of Christ in our lives?  Is it in our moms, children, dad, in the poor and needy, in our neighbors, in songs we join to sing during worship, in the Eucharist we share or in the sermons we listen to? In our offices, places of work, class rooms, libraries? There are several opportunities and moments available for us to encounter Christ.

Peter whom we saw delivering a Pentecost Speech in today’s first reading (Acts 2:14, 22-33) and preaching the redeeming blood of Jesus in the Second reading 1 Peter 1:17-21, was the foremost Disciples of Christ. Initially, he had his own doubts; he had his own ups and downs, and human paths to walk.  Remember, once Peter was violent at another time he denied his Master many times, but today he has chosen a different path, the path of life. Today the bible readings present the courageous and the convincing Peter witnessing and proclaiming faith in the truth of the Risen Lord. He is not worried about cutting off the ear of Malchus and denying Christ.

These are not ordinary Petrine passages of rhetoric but an enduring testimony to Christ’s Events- his love for us, the miracles he worked and the healing compassion he brought us.  What Peter does into today’s readings is a recognition of the Power of God and the truth that the tomb was never, from day one, going to be the final destination of Christ. It was never going to be possible for Christ to be held by death. In Peter’s life I personally learn to see how God can change us and move things around in our lives. Unlike the “denying Peter” during the Passion Week he has become a courageous and preaching disciple, using every opportunity to bear witness to Christ. The question for me is, do I explore every opportunity in my life to bear witness to Christ or to recognize His enduring presence by my side? Am I ready to change my path and follow the path of Christ?

Apart from Peter, the conversation of Cleopas with his companion from Jerusalem to Emmaus in today’s Gopels (Luke 24:13-35) indicates the faith struggle of the Jewish community and of course the fears, sadness and doubts of the Disciples of Christ on the Messianic and redeeming presence of Jesus, presented by the events of the cross and death. We do all have our own conversations, fears and doubts in moments of crises!

Cleopas in today’s gospel is walking his path back to Emmaus with a companion. But who was this other disciple that Cleoplas traveled with? The name is not mentioned in Luke, but many theologians and spiritual authors thought she was "Mary the wife of Cleopas" mentioned in John chapter 19:25. 

For me this make sense within the context of our "mother's day celebration" coming up next Sunday, here in our nation (USA). For our men and children think of where we would have been or sometimes how difficult our journeys would have been without the support of our mothers, wives and friends.  How successful would we have been in your businesses or in your career without the support of your wife, your sister or your mom?   You really want to talk to your wife, your sister and your mom. Respect and consult them when you are taking those family or important decisions as fellow pilgrims of faith and know that Jesus will always be there with you and for you. You have to strife to recognize Jesus in one another!

He was there for a long walk alongside Cleopas and his fellow traveler unrecognized until  the breaking of the Word of God and the breaking of the bread, two key things we do when we gather here to worship: the celebration of the Word of God and the breaking of the Bread- the Holy Eucharist. Scriptures that Christ himself explains from Moses to the Prophets- changes and transforms the mind set and the spiritual paths of Cleopas and his friend. It changes their uncertainties to certainties.  It calms their fears and restores their hope in Christ the prophet. They recognize him as a true redeemer and a peaceful Messiah. He has come not to fight his enemies and opponents with weapons and ammunition as Peter had initially thought, but to bring them love, peace, and forgiveness. They more reason they said to Christ, "stay with us , for it is almost evening."

The Eucharist we break and the bible lessons we share, the first reading, the second, the Psalms and Gospels remain always great conduits of moments for us to encounter the Risen Christ and have our faith, hope nourished and restored, after the examples of Cleopas and his traveling friends.

The faith journeys of each of us can always be seen not only in the light of Peter and the Eleven but in the light of ”Emmaus walk" of Cleopas and his  companion. And we want to cease every opportunity in our life's' journeys to recognize and feel the presence of God on our paths. W want him to stay with and walk with us!  Jesus during meals, Jesus at Mass, Jesus as we read the Bible, Jesus as we pay attention to the sermons, Jesus on our sick beds, Jesus in “bad times,” Jesus in “good times”, Jesus in the poor and in the rich; Jesus at home, at church, in the class rooms, work places and at schools; Jesus with our children, in our priests, with our parents- dads and moms and Jesus in our neighbors. He travels always with us on our paths. He shows us the path of life!