Accepting God's revelation through conversion

04-15-2018HomiliesFr. Chad King

Our Gospel for this Easter Sunday is from Luke, which comes immediately after the appearance of Jesus to the 2 disciples on the Road to Emmaus. If you remember that story, 2 disciples who had been following Jesus when he was alive, now were leaving Jerusalem and going back home after Jesus’ death, saddened because they thought he was the Messiah who would save them. On their journey of 7 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus appeared and walked with them, and while they were walking Luke describes, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them all that referred to Him in all the scriptures”. Then when they were sitting down for a meal, “Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them”. And at that, at the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened and the recognized that it was the Risen Jesus with them all along.

Our Gospel today begins, “The two disciples recounted (presumably to other disciples) what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread”.  Can you imagine the group of other disciples hearing and initially questioning their account,: ‘Are you serious, are you sure it was the same Jesus who walked and talked with you?  But upon hearing the whole account the initial shock wore off and the hope, the amazement sank in, that maybe they did encounter the same Jesus.  Therefore, can you imagine the other disciples saying, or at least thinking- I wish I was there.  Where did Jesus go, why can’t we see him?  Have you ever felt like there is something good that you are missing, that others have, and you feel left out?  That’s how I imagine the group of other disciples feeling.

However, our Gospel today continues, “While they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them “Peace be with you.”  Right when they were complaining that they weren’t the lucky ones to be there, and wanting to see Jesus for themselves, suddenly he appears to them.  It is like Jesus knew the desires of their hearts, and Jesus wanted to satisfy their desire and reveal Himself to them also.  He shows them the nail marks in his hands and feet, and he even asked for something to eat and ate right there in front of them.  They literally put a fish before him, watched him eat it, and when he was done there was only the scales of the fish left.  In other words, the same Jesus is truly alive again, in no way could this just be an illusion or a figment of their imagination.

My brothers and sisters, this fact and truth has been revealed and testified for 2000 years.  But yet, there are some people who don’t believe it.  There are some who, like the 2 disciples, followed Jesus for a little bit, but then went back to their old way of life.  There are some, perhaps some people here in this Church right now, who have heard this amazing story of how God has revealed himself to others, but they haven’t seen it for themselves.  Many people might have heard about the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and heard about what God did in through Moses and all the prophets, but they don’t know what that means for them.  They don’t know how what God did in the Old Testament relates to Jesus Christ, or that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God did in the Old Testament.  Likewise, they also don’t know for themselves that Jesus is real, that out of love for them, He actually suffered, died, and now is Risen from the dead for the forgiveness of sins and their salvation.  There are many people who have read the story, who have an idea of what God has done, but yet it hasn’t hit them, it hasn’t touched their hearts. 

About these disciples to whom Jesus just revealed himself to, our Gospel goes on to say that Jesus, “opened their minds to understand the scriptures”.  It takes God to open our minds for us to really believe and accept the extent in which He loves us.  We can hear the words and the stories many times, but until or hearts are opened can we come to understand and appreciate.  Therefore, if you are like one of those disciples who haven’t encountered the Risen Jesus for yourself, if you don’t understand what or why God has done what he has in Jesus for you, then ask God to open your minds to understand the scriptures.  If you know of somebody like them who haven’t fully accepted the reality of God’s love for them, pray that God will open their minds to understand the scriptures.  And of course, this should go without saying, but, if we want to know, understand and appreciate what God has done for us and how He has revealed himself, then not only should we pray for an open mind and heart, but it certainly helps if we actually then read the scriptures for ourselves (hint. hint).

Our 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives another criteria that each of us must be striving for if we ourselves, and if we want others, to truly come to know Jesus Christ and all that God has done for us.  Our 1st reading is Peter preaching to a crowd of astonished Jews who had gathered in the Temple area after Peter had just healed a crippled beggar.  Peter testified how their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has glorified Jesus whom they had handed over, denied, and persuaded that a murderer be released instead.  Peter declared, “You denied the Holy and Righteous One, you put Jesus, who is the Son of God and the author of life, to death”.  And notice that Peter doesn’t say, ‘Therefore, I hold you responsible, I admonish and persecute you for sacrificing the Son of God.  And so you are shunned and cast out for not believing, you are condemned for doubting or not fully accepting or understanding’.  No, instead Peter has compassion on them, and says, “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did”. Peter understands that they are not being condemned by God for their unbelief; but that by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, God has overcome their ignorance and doubt.  Peter understood that all the scriptures about Jesus Christ and now especially His Resurrection of the dead give evidence, and that they, the disciples, are witnesses, that God does not condemn but now has fully revealed Himself so that every person can come to believe. 

However, even today, 2000 years later, there are still people who do not believe the full revelation of Jesus Christ.  My brothers and sisters, God has, and is continuing to do all he can so that every person will not be condemned but will come to truly believe and know with all their hearts of the love God has for them.  But God is asking for our help.  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gives faith and life to every believer, that is, if we, as our first reading concludes, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away”.  My brothers and sisters, we must repent, we must turn away from sin with conviction, from the bottom of our hearts.  If we only half-heartedly seek to live out our faith, if we don’t seek a full 180 conversion away from sin and toward God, if we don’t strive to live the freedom from sin which God gives us through our full repentance and conversion.  If we don’t witness and share the new life that God offers to us and every single person, then why would anyone want that new life, why would anyone come to believe in the power of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection?  My brothers and sisters, the Resurrection of Jesus is evidence, it is not imaginary or made up, but it is the truth that God is alive and actively seeking the conversion of sinners, it is up to us if we testify to this fact by our repentance and conversion.  Therefore, I ask you, do you want be God’s witnesses to all the unbelievers of today, just as Peter and the disciples were witnesses for unbelievers like us.  Then join me in praying, Lord, open my mind and heart, and purify my complacent heart, to know the fullness of life and love you want for me and others. Amen.