Third Sunday of Easter Homily

Posted on May 4, 2017


30 April 2017

First Eucharist

I am always struck by how the scriptures can come alive–

How something that happens in my life, the life of those around me, can suddenly make sense.

Several years ago I got a letter which made me see the gospel today in a way I’d never seen it before.

Two things to notice about this familiar story:

First, these two disciples had really given up on two things–Jesus and the community of believers.

They were running away from both.

Second, once the two disciples had decided to leave the community

it was very hard for them to recognize the Lord.  It was almost like starting all over again.

The problem for the disciples, and maybe for us, is that often, it’s easy to leave–the church,

significant relationships, our families, and very hard to come back.

So, several years ago I got a letter–unsigned from someone who had given up on the Lord and the church.

The person didn’t say, why he or she left other than they left 20 years ago.

For the past year this person has had a strange “craving”–that’s the word he or she used,

to come back to somehow reestablish a connection with the Lord.

Over the past year that person has been coming back somewhat irregularly.

In the letter he or she said: “I want to thank you for being there even though I won’t be coming to your church.

I’ve gone too far away and that makes me very sad.  Why didn’t anyone tell me how much I would lose by leaving?  I lost the possibility of believing.

Then the person continued:  “I don’t blame anyone really.

No one in the church could have told me anything back then which could have made a difference.

But maybe my story will make a difference for someone else.  Please tell it.”

Two points:

1)  I never want to pretend that this community, the church, is perfect

–anymore than we can look at the disciples following the crucifixion and call them our perfect model.  But there is something here which we can lose if we leave.  I’m not exactly sure what that is.

It may be beyond words and it may be only the “possibility” of believing.

It may be as the disciples called it “heart burn.”

Or, as the person who wrote me said, a “craving” for the Lord which is kept alive here in us.

2)  The two disciples in the gospel today left the community too soon.

If they had stayed another 24 hours, we wouldn’t have this story.

The hardest part for all of us in this community, will be waiting

–waiting beyond our disappointments with each other and our pain.

The hardest part of belonging to this community or the church is not giving up on each other and the Lord.