Third Sunday of Easter, April 18, 2021
The following story is true. Just before the turn of the century, a train rumbled through France headed for Paris. Two men sat opposite each other, one a young soldier obviously bored; and the other, an old man content to finger his rosary beads. As the monotonous miles bumped along, the soldier could not restrain himself. He blurted out at the direction of the old man: “God isn’t going to save our world – science is!”
The old man smiled and nodded and continued his prayers. The “put down” was too much of a challenge to avoid, so the young soldier began a tirade on the marvels of science, declaring religion to be dying out as the light of science came in. The old man kept smiling and nodding as he continued his rosary. The soldier continued his attack until the train reached the depot in Paris.
As the soldier stood up to get his bag he felt sorry for the old man who had silently taken his abuse for the past hour. Trying to sound a bit kinder, he introduced himself. The elderly gentleman shook the soldiers hand and then reached into his vest for a card. The young man accepted the card and then helped the old man down the steps. Then he glanced at the card. It read: “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris”.
What a missed opportunity. What a shame. All because the soldier was a know-it-all. If the soldier was such a believer in science as he proclaimed, then he missed the opportunity to spend one hour with one of the most brilliant scientists in history. If the soldier did not judge an old man because he had a rosary in his hands, he could have learned religion and science do not contradict each other. If you think they do, then either you do not understand Theology, or you do not understand Science, or you don’t understand either one.
Daily we live and work in the presence of the risen Christ, yet how often we fail to recognize him. Another missed opportunity. The disciples too had difficulty recognizing Jesus. The readings today suggest that if we are open to his presence and search him out we will find him in three ways: in the Word, in the Eucharist, and in one another.
First through his Word, God speaks to us every day. Allow him to speak. Don’t become a know-it-all in conversation with God. Jesus said: “Recall those words that I spoke to you when I was with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms had to be fulfilled.” If we are willing He will open our minds to the understating of the Scriptures. None of us is a know-it-all, so be open.
2 The second way we find Jesus is in the Eucharist, the risen Christ is present to us at Mass. We eat his flesh and drink the chalice of his blood. There is an intimate communion of mind and heart in this sacrament – an interior experience of Jesus. Bread signifies the meaning of life and death. It comes from wheat, the fruit of a seed that has been put into the ground to die in order that new life might begin.
Wheat is used for making bread only after it has been crushed and sifted, pounded and kneaded. To give ourselves to Christ means to place ourselves into his hands as bread to be broken, just as He was broken. We are all broken, but now our brokenness has meaning. Remember: “They came to know him in the breaking of the bread.” We are all broken, so be open to the Eucharist.
3. The third way we find Jesus is in one another. If we are not sensitive to the needs of others, we may miss Jesus – just as the soldier missed Louis Pasteur, and the disciples missed Christ, because the soldier and the disciples were know-it- alls. Sometimes the risen Christ makes himself present to us in the form of a small child, a teenager, a beggar; sometimes he speaks to us through a friend, or an enemy. It is very easy not to recognize Jesus if he appears too human. If Jesus asks for a bite of fish he can’t be God. Be sensitive to others.
In conclusion, like the disciples we come to recognize Christ slowly – not only in the Word, but also in the breaking of the bread and in one another. God is calling each of us. That is a Biblical fact. Are you listening? Amen.
The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from death; of this we are witnesses.
1 John 2:1-5a
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar.”
[Jesus] asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.