The Third Sunday of Easter at St. Peter & St. William Parishes in Naples, FL

3 Easter Sunday

15 April 2018 at St. Peter the Apostle and St. William Churches in Naples, FL

Acts of the Apostles 3, 13-15, 17-19 + Psalm 4 + 1 John 2, 1-5 + Luke 24, 35-48

In all four of the Gospels, Jesus is on a journey to Jerusalem. That is the focus of his life, and the center of his mission. These disciples are not just grieving, they are all mixed up. Maybe their grieving is an excuse, but the fact is, they are going the wrong way. The whole life of Jesus, and the message of the Gospels, takes us to Jerusalem, to the cross. Those disciples are going away from the cross, and I suppose we tell their story because too often we are doing the same thing. We go the wrong way. We look for safety, comfort, power, acceptance, understanding, and even intimacy in the wrong places. None of these things are found in the stock market, in shopping, in the various ideologies that promise things they cannot deliver. There is no acceptance, understanding, or intimacy on the internet, in chat rooms or pornography. There is only one place we can find everything we need and long for: Jerusalem at the Cross.

The wonderful and exciting revelation of this story is about a God who does not wait for us to come to Him or turn around and go back. What we discover in this familiar story is that God comes after us even when we are going the wrong way. Those disciples, do something that afternoon that changes everything. It says: “They stopped.” Their willingness and decision to just stop what they were doing, stop running away, stop what they were thinking and listen to the Word of God changed everything and turned them around. In that conversation with the stranger, we see that they had all the facts about what had happened in Jerusalem, but they had failed to ask what it meant.

My friends when something happens that we do not understand or that shakes our expectations about how God should work, it is useless to ask “why”. We must ask ourselves what it means and what we are going to become because of it. The only question they were asking themselves on that road was, “Why?” When a storm or a fire destroys all the stuff we have collected, piled up and stored away, asking “why” is useless. When any tragedy strikes, we must wonder what it means and consider what we are going to become because of it. Only then can we move forward and not run away or become bitter.

As they listened to the Word, they began to understand that the path to glory for Jesus and all his followers was the path of suffering, sacrificial love. Once they got it, they knew what to do, who they were, and where to go. When that happened, they became real disciples. They no longer ran away from the cross. They stopped looking for glory anywhere except in sacrificial love. They run back to others like true disciples, because they had something to share and news to tell about someone who remains with them. This must become our story, our experience of the resurrection so that we know who we are and where to go.

Father Tom Boyer