Third Sunday of Easter - 30th April, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1Peter 1:17 - 21; Gospel - Luke 24:13-35
 
 

Today’s readings provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the Old Testament for Christians and on the bond between the Scriptures and the Eucharist.

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles we have an example of how the early Christians were conscious of being in profound continuity with the covenant plan manifested and realised by the God of Israel in the Old Testament (Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) - The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, n.42).

Peter interprets the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Verses from a Psalm (Acts 2:25-28) and previously from the prophet Joel (2:17-21) are presented as prophesies now fulfilled in Jesus. In particular, Peter links Jesus’ resurrection to the “oath” sworn by God to David (2:30-31).

Likewise, the Gospel makes clear that the roots of Christianity are to be found in the Old Testament. Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself (Luke 24:27).

For Luke and the other “New Testament” authors, the scriptures refer to the “Old Testament”. As the PBC notes, it was only later the developing Church gradually formed a New Testament canon which was also Sacred Scripture, but in the sense that it still presupposed Israel's Bible to be such (Preface - The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures…).

Towards the end of the events at Emmaus, the encounter with Jesus moves to a new plane. The Gospel tells us that, despite Jesus’ explanation of the scriptures, the disciples still seem to be unaware of his identity.

 

It was only when Jesus took the bread and said the blessing….broke it and handed it to them (Lk 24:30) that their eyes were opened and they recognised him (Lk 24:31).

As Benedict XVI explains, from these accounts it is clear that Scripture itself points us towards an appreciation of its own unbreakable bond with the Eucharist. Word and Eucharist are so deeply bound together that we cannot understand one without the other: the word of God sacramentally takes flesh in the event of the Eucharist. The Eucharist opens us to an understanding of Scripture, just as Scripture for its part illumines and explains the mystery of the Eucharist. Unless we acknowledge the Lord's real presence in the Eucharist, our understanding of Scripture remains imperfect (The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, n.55).

Jim Wade, Dominican Laity, Canberra.