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UNRECOGNIZED – 3RD Sunday of Easter, Year B

            We sometimes miss the presence of people in our life on some levels. Seeing them physically doesn’t necessarily mean we have “seen” them emotionally or spiritually. St. Luke gives us the account of two disciples on the road to Emmaus discussing with a stranger all the terrible things that had happened to Jesus of Nazareth. They sensed something unique about the stranger, who made their hearts burn and the journey short, as He explained the meaning of the Scriptures and what had happened.

            Luke tells us: “The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, He stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’. But they were startled and terrified…” We may say: “That’s strange! Why didn’t they recognize Him?” Probably the same reason we don’t always recognize Jesus in our life. He can only be recognized in His glorified body and in His risen condition through faith. The ever present Lord goes unrecognized rather often in our life. The Lord speaks with us through people we are in contact with and through the experiences we have. There are times we do sense the presence of the Risen Lord with us. Other times we may just know. As the disciples began to compare notes on their various meetings with the Risen Lord, they gradually learned to look for Him. We too can recognize the “stranger” more often if we are aware of how the Lord speaks, and the ways He is especially present to us.

            That is a major reason Jesus instituted the Eucharistic Meal, so we could recognize, recall, and be in contact with Him after His resurrection. At the end of the account, where today’s Gospel begins, we are told the disciples pressed the stranger to stay with them. Jesus asked, “Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave Him a piece of baked fish; He took it and ate it in front of them”. Then they recognized Him. With our faith we expect to recognize the Risen Lord especially when we celebrate the Eucharist.

            Each time the disciples did what Jesus told them to do at the Last Supper, they became aware of the presence of the Risen Lord. This has been the experience of Christians down through the centuries. Each time the believers come together to listen to the Lord’s Word and share in the meal of His Body and Blood, the Risen Lord is present and recognized in faith. He doesn’t look like He did in His earthly body. We hear the disciples thought “they were seeing a ghost”. A risen body looks different, even though it is the same person. In heaven we will easily recognize other risen bodies, including the Risen Lord Jesus of glory. That is reason enough for wanting to go to heaven!

            Jesus, the Risen Lord, is especially present when His Word is being broken open, shared and understood. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” The very Word of God gives us a lot of insights into how the Lord makes Himself present in human life. When we are conscious the Lord is present with us explaining the Scriptures to us, especially in the Sacred Liturgy, we listen intensely. “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

            The Holy Spirit is an “Unrecognized One” in the lives of many, as is the Risen Lord Jesus. He is the Person of God who gives us faith, which is the power to see into the Scriptures, into Jesus Risen, and the mysteries of His life and presence.

            Those with a greater faith and love recognize the Risen Lord more often. A greater joy and peace is known to all who know and recognize Jesus the Risen Lord. We too can know “incredulous…joy”. The more we recognize the Risen Jesus in our life the more we answer the call of Peter in Acts. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” We certainly need to be aware of “…Jesus Christ the Righteous One…” and to respond to His presence in our life.

            “The way we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments.” Keep your eyes of faith and your ears of hope open for “The Unrecognized Stranger(s)”. “Lord, let your face shine on us.” (Ps.4)

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