The Risen Lord with the Most Beautiful Smile

3rd Sunday of Easter
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

A small boy was walking home after Sunday school. He was thinking about the lesson. When you give something to another person, you are really giving it to Jesus, and you will find the risen Jesus in everyone you meet. As he was walking, he noticed an old woman sitting on the roadside. She looked lonely and hungry. He sat down beside her and gave her chocolate. She accepted it with a beautiful smile. Then they sat together in silence, just smiling at each other. Finally, the small boy gave the woman a big hug and went home with a smile on his face. His mother saw a big smile on his face and asked, what made you so happy today? He said, I shared my chocolate with Jesus. Then, he added, you know, she has the most beautiful smile in the world. Meanwhile, the old woman returned to her home where she lived with her sister, and said to her you know, today I ate chocolate with Jesus. Today’s Gospel tells us that we will meet and experience the risen Jesus in unexpected places and persons.

In the Old Testament lot of people encountered God in an unexpected way. Abraham entertained three Angels when he was unaware. Jacob laid his head on a stone while he slept and saw a stairway to Heaven. While Moses was taking care of the sheep, he heard the voice of the Lord coming from the burning bush. Prophet Isaiah says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty temple, Seraphim singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His Glory,” before his own cleansing and consecration as a Prophet of the Lord. (Isaiah 6:1–6) Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and Jesus got Saul’s attention by knocking him to the ground and making him blind.

Our readings today have one common and encouraging theme. No matter what happens in our lives, the risen Jesus is always with us. God is near to those who seek Him. The Emmaus incident is the story of a God who will not abandon us when we are disappointed.

God’s self–disclosure to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus was unexpected, but radically different from others. While they were walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, their eyes were closed from recognizing Him. When Jesus was at the table with them, He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave the bread to them. At that moment, the eyes of the disciples were open and they recognized Jesus just before He vanished from their sight. Jesus will come to us in an unfamiliar way to support and strengthen us, when we least expect our risen Lord.

The Easter and the Emmaus journey tells us that God never forces Himself on us. He joins us in a walk in the garden, enjoying the beautiful scenery, visiting with a friend, sadness of death, or reading a letter from someone we love. God speaks to us in the voices of those who are hurt and sorrowful, in the faces of the poor and the needy.

We need to find Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread, as the Emmaus disciples understood. When we approach the altar to receive the Sacrament, we see and receive Christ Himself. The Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ; it feeds us and fulfills our spiritual needs. When you receive the body of Christ let us recognize the risen Lord who is smiling at you.

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