domenica 30 aprile 2017


Speaking of Eastertide Sundays, the Norms on the Liturgical Year say: “The Sundays of this time of year are considered to be Sundays of Easter and are called, after Easter Sunday itself, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter” (n. 23). The Sundays we are celebrating are no more—like in the old liturgy—“Sundays after Easter,” but “Sundays of Easter.” Which means: it is still Easter—and it will be so until Pentecost. That is apparent from today’s liturgy of the word. All three of the readings are a proclamation of the paschal mystery, just as if it were Easter Sunday. Mind you, we celebrate the paschal mystery in its entirety, that is to say, both the passion and the resurrection of Christ. Often, when we speak of Easter, we only think of the resurrection, as if Jesus’ sufferings and death were just an unpleasant chance event to be soon forgotten. Today’s readings show that the apostles’ preaching was different.

Peter says to the Jews present in Jerusalem for Pentecost: “This man … you killed, using lawless men to crucify him”—Peter does not scruple to reproach the Jews for Jesus’ death—“But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death.”

In the second reading, Peter himself explains to us the meaning of Christ’s death: “You were ransomed from your futile conduct … not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” Only at the end of the passage Peter reminds us that “God … raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

In the gospel, it is Jesus in person that emphasizes the importance of his passion. The two disciples consider the death of Jesus as the proof that he was not the Messiah: “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.” Great is the disillusionment of the disciples: they had believed in Jesus, but their expectations had been disappointed. It was insufficient for them to hear from the women that some angels had announced them that he was alive; it was useless to know that some of the disciples had gone to the tomb and had found it empty. All these signs were not enough, because no one, until then, had seen him. Jesus reproaches them for their hardness of heart: they have not yet understood that it was necessary (oportuit) for Christ to endure passion, in order to enter into his glory. It was necessary, because it was written; first of all, it was written in the eternal plan of God; and then because it was written in the Scriptures. That is why Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” It is impossible to understand Jesus if the true meaning of the Scriptures is not grasped. Only after being enlightened by the Scriptures, their eyes, which were prevented from recognizing Jesus, are little by little opened e become ready to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. But, at the very moment when they recognize him, Jesus vanishes from their sight. Once recognized, there is need no more of seeing him.

What matters is not to see Jesus, but to recognize him. It is precisely what happens whenever we take part in the Eucharist. We first read the Scriptures and Jesus himself interprets them for us; with that light, our minds are illuminated, our hearts set on fire, and our eyes opened to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. We do not see him, but we recognize him in the signs through which he continues to be present among us.