Monsignor Ryan’s Homily for April 26th

Most of us would confess, if we were completely honest, that we have just about reached the saturation point in the constant flow of news about the coronavirus. And yet we cannot stay away completely from the daily media reports. In our world today, people consider it vital to be “in the know.” Instant communications make it possible for millions to know immediately when something important is happening; so much so, that we feel a mixture of pity and condescension for anyone who is not “in the know.”
The Scriptures for this Third Sunday of Easter introduce us to lots of people. Some are “in the know,” a few think that they are “in the know,” but really are not; and still more are getting “into the know.”
St. Peter is definitely “in the know.” If, at Jesus’ arrest, he swore that he did not know the man, Peter more than makes up for it today. “God raised this Jesus,” he tells the crowd assembled outside the Upper Room on Pentecost. And this is no rumor, or speculation that Peter is handing on. It is not even speculation based on the women’s report that they had been to Jesus’ tomb, and claimed to have seen angels rather than a corpse in the burial chamber. “Of this we all witnesses,” he asserts. As the apostles gathered in that same Upper Room tell Cleopas and his companion on Easter night, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon.”
The crowds to whom Peter speaks on Pentecost know, as does everyone in Jerusalem, about the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the talk of the town. But when it comes to the outcome of that tragic event and its true significance, they are not “in the know” So Peter aims to set them straight. “Let this be known to you. Listen to my words. Jesus… you killed…. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death.” And if the crowds are still hesitant to believe this astounding news, Peter advises them to check with their ancestors in the faith who were “in the know” even before Jesus was born. David is an example. “He foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ…”
Jesus uses that same approach with Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. Those two sophisticates think that they are “in the know.” Very likely they witnessed the scene at Calvary, and they have no time for tales told by women about empty tombs and visions of angels. They just cannot understand how Jesus could be the only visitor to Jerusalem who is not “in the know” about all the things that happened there the last few days. You can almost see the smile on Jesus’ face as they fill him in on the details of his own death. Finally, Jesus can take it no longer. “O how foolish you are,” he tells them. “Were you not ‘in the know’ that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer these things, and so enter his glory?” Then, like Peter calling David as a witness, Jesus cites Moses and all the prophets who long ago were “in the know.”
We long to be “in the know.” And during this time of crisis ushered in by the coronavirus, it becomes ever more vital to be in the know. We need to know that, despite the separation enforced upon us, we are not really alone. We need to know that Jesus is with us, even though we cannot – for a time – receive him in the Eucharist or feel his power in the other sacraments. We need to know that we are still bound together as friends and fellow parishioners. That is why we respond so enthusiastically to live-streamed Masses from our parish churches and familiar devotional practices. This past week, the religion teacher for the upper grades in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy phoned to tell me that many of her students have been asking about me and that they miss me terribly. She suggested that I film a greeting that could be shared with all of them. And I made the film so that all the youngsters could be “in the know” about my good health.
Cleopas and his companion related to the apostles that they recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread. That is why we long to assemble once again together in this church. It is here, at the altar, our Eucharistic table, that we come to know, really know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

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