One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o"clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." Then he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his marvellous deeds. (R./)
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!
Look to the Lord in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly. (R./)
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the Lord, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail. (R./)
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations--
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac. (R./)
On that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
The Emmaus story is a living parable for Christian discipleship. It suggests that if we travel life’s journey in company with others, sharing our faith and doubts with them, Christ will be walking beside us, opening our minds to his saving truth. Just as he gave understanding to the two on the road to Emmaus, so he does for all who take time to listen to him. His promise remains, “I am with you, always!” In those early years they had many proofs of his powerful presence, as seen by various miracle stories in the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s story dramatises Peter’s healing powers once he called on Jesus’ name. Not only is the crippled man cured, he jumps up and enters the temple with them, leaping and praising God. The people’s amazement gives Peter a chance to explain to them the source of his healing gift: he has it from the risen Christ, now even more effective than he was during his mortal life.
Spiritually, we are all on an Emmaus journey, a camino or pilgrimage of faith. We may be perplexed by some of the things that happen to us, maybe the loss of a job, a career failure, even the collapse of a relationship or being let down by friends. We have been shocked by sexual-abuses in our own Church. We are rightly troubled by new flu viruses spreading in our world, by the injustices in society, climate change and the ongoing destruction of the environment. When so much of the outlook seems gloomy we may feel as helpless and downcast as those two disciples on the road. Like them, we need the light that Christ offers. When we cannot make sense of things we need to lean on him for support. We need to search the Scriptures together and enjoy his company in the breaking of bread. And then we can go out and share his good news with others.
The two disciples were leaving Jerusalem because it had such painful memories for them. It was just outside the city walls that the one they loved and trusted, whose message gave such hope and meaning, had died. Jerusalem had killed not only Jesus but the hopes of his friends, and cast a shadow over them.
Although they didn’t realize it at the time, Jerusalem was not just the place where Jesus was put to death; it was also the place where he rose from the dead and where the risen Lord would gift them with his Holy Spirit. It was the centre from where his message would spread out to the world. The Lord journeyed with these two disciples to help them to see that there was more to Jerusalem than they realized. Often the places we try to get away from, which seem dreary and dark, are where the seeds of new life will be found, for God can always bring light out of darkness.