Third Sunday of Easter (A)
They recognised him at the breaking of bread
The Word This Week
During the Season of Easter we walk with the Risen Lord, enjoying his appearing to his disciples. Todays gospel is one of the loveliest accounts of his appearing - and one especially important for the reader. Jesus appears and teaches the two disciples, by reference to the Scriptures, the meaning of his death.
This is very close to the way in which the neophytes (newly baptised) would continue to be taught, through hearing the scriptures, during Easter. The reader should take to herself or himself the words of the Gospel Acclamation: Lord Jesus, explain the scriptures to us. Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.
Notes for Readers
Two things to remember about this speech: it comes immediately after the Spirit is poured out on the apostles in the Upper Room, and after this discourse Acts tells us about three thousand were baptised - Peter was certainly convincing. You must be as well!
The first paragraph is fairly straightforward: Peter is not haranguing the people but reminding them of recent events (50 days ago). What they are less aware of comes from You killed him... onwards, especially the words God raised him to life. Imagine the audacity of this statement, spoken to a crowd that probably witnessed the crucifixion.
The crowd is Jewish, so Peter appeals to Scripture (Psalm 16); be careful to read the prophecy in a slightly different tone of voice, so your listeners know this is a quotation. Peter then has to explain why David is not speaking about himself in this Psalm - this is what the last paragraph is about: Jesus is the one referred to. Then Peters tone becomes more ecstatic: God raised this man Jesus to life and all of us are witnesses to that. Personal testimony was very important then, so this line is most significant. There should almost be breathlessness in church when this exciting reading is finished.
This is a continuation of last weeks reading - remind yourself what it said. Last week Peter was writing about the effects of baptism, and continues this today, by talking about us being freed from a useless way of life, to a life of faith and hope. Baptism is our taking part in Jesus death and resurrection.
This reading consists of three long sentences: you will need to work them out well beforehand, especially the second. In the first sentence home refers to heaven: we must live scrupulously careful lives here on earth once we are baptised. We willingly do this because our ransom was paid in the most precious substance imaginable - the blood of Christ, the sinless one. And this has given us the greatest gift: faith in God, revealed in Christ Jesus.