A central theme in the readings this weekend is the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, of course (after all, we are in Eastertime!); but especially the central role of the Church in proclaiming that Jesus is risen. We are to be disciples and disciple-makers, fed by the Word of God and sustained by the Eucharist.

Our First Reading (Acts 2:14, 22-33) almost takes us backward as we hear part of St. Peter’s speech on the Day of Pentecost (last week we heard what happened after that speech). He tells of the heart or kernel of our Easter faith: simply, that Jesus is risen. He gives an overview of Jesus’ mission and ministry and how this fulfilled God’s promises. Now we too must come to faith and proclaim this faith to everyone.

Our psalm (Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11) is echoed in St. Peter’s speech in the First Reading. The Lord will show us the path of life: this was complete and made manifest in Jesus Christ. Because of this, we can have confidence and trust and also be full of joy because we know the Lord is with us. So, as disciples, we should not be afraid or shy of pro¬≠claiming this wonderful truth.

In our Second Reading (1 Peter 1:17-21), we continue to read the First Letter of St. Peter that some commentators believe is a form of catechesis or an extended homily. We hear a summary of God’s plan for our salvation made possible through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is the same plan and person that we must proclaim today as the Lord’s disciples and evangelizers. As St. John Paul II put it: “… it is not therefore a matter of inventing a ‘new program.’ The program already exists; it is the plan found in the Gospel and in living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its center in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in Him we may live the life of the Trinity and with Him transform history until its fulfilment.”

The account of the two disciples and their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) is found only in such detail in St. Luke’s Gospel. It is, one might say, the longest account of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to the disciples and, for many of us, it is our favorite! It is, one might also say, a microcosm of the Mass as we hear God’s Word that touches our hearts and then we are led to the breaking of bread (the Eucharist). But then, as one of the dismissals at the end of Mass says, we are sent out to proclaim this encounter, just like the two disciples did in the Gospel: “… go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” After all, our word “Mass” comes from the dismissal at the end of Mass that sends us out “ite missa est.”

We are indeed given a model of how evangelization or disciple-making works: both how it happens to us and how we can bring others to Christ. Notice first that Jesus takes the initiative and he does not impose, but rather enters into a conversation by asking questions and giving answers. Then, at the right moment, Jesus speaks and guides the disciples along the road (one might say literally along the road to Emmaus and also spiritually along the road of faith). The disciples’ hearts burn within them as the power of Jesus, who is the Word of God speaks to them. Jesus then accepts their invitation to stay longer and takes the initiative again in the breaking of bread. Here again, they encounter Jesus: the true bread from heaven. The result is that the disciples cannot keep this life-changing encounter to themselves but leave immediately, even though it is night, to proclaim what they have experienced.

We can notice one, final thing. This encounter takes place where? Not in a special place but on a public road and, by tradition, at an inn (although some commentators suggest it might be the house of Cleopas, the disciple named in the Gospel). The picture of this Gospel by Caravaggio painted in 1601 shows both disciples with ordinary, torn or patched clothes and sitting at a typical inn table with typical food to make this point. So, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Being disciples in faith and being disciple-makers takes place, so often, in the ordinary: a “chance” encounter at work or school, for example. So, let us go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.