If you are concerned now that I will take time to deliver this message I can assure you that I will take time … but I can also put you at ease. Taking time here doesn’t mean that I will be preaching for an hour but that I, and other good fathers, will be preaching Sunday in and Sunday out. The first lesson the Dear Lord teaches his messengers is to be patient while delivering the Good News. A homily doesn’t need to answer all questions. The first lesson Jesus teaches the receivers of the Good News is the same, be patient at getting answers to the questions which occupy your mind. If you appreciate brief homilies you should also appreciate the interval between Sundays when you are given a chance to process what you heard in church: to pray and meditate the message.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! St Luke tells us that when “Jesus came up and walked by the side of Cleopas and the other disciple; something prevented them from recognising him.” Why didn’t he reveal himself straightaway to them? Why did he allow their eyes to be kept from recognising him? Why did he have to repeat all those things he had already told them before? To come to appreciate what happened to those two followers of the Lord let us go back to the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The Evangelist first tells us how the birth of John the Baptist was announced to Zechariah. The immediate result of that announcement was that the priest was left dumbstruck for nine months; until the boy was born. Was God punishing Zechariah for disbelieving the message the Archangel Gabriel brought to him? Not at all, God was rather patient with Zechariah giving him nine months of prayer and reflection as he was unable to communicate with others. In this way the father of the prophet could process the message about the role his son was to play in the plan of salvation which was unfolding.
Cleopas and his companion were treated to a similar experience. The Lord spent most of the Easter Sunday walking and talking patiently to those two people. He offered them his time, his listening ear and his wisdom which was pouring out from his heart and mind. They didn’t get quick answers to the questions which were eating them away. They, however, got the Good News which penetrated the depth of their sorrow, confusion, disappointment, anger and loss. The wisdom they were given was transformative rather than informative. The two runners were transformed into messengers. Though they still had to learn more patience as they couldn’t wait until morning to tell other disciples what happened to them and rushed back to Jerusalem even if it was dark outside.
What Christian people have learnt, however, over the course of the history is to take time to process the mind boggling questions. We have fifty days to unpack the richness of Easter and to enlighten our lives with it. We have the whole year to see ourselves, our Church and our society in the light of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection. Even more, we don’t limit our Christian formation to one year. We keep returning to the themes of our life in Christ and our salvation year in and year out.
What we also come to appreciate is that answers come from talking faith to each other. It is because when faith is talked the Lord is there. He promised to be present where two or three are gathered in his name. In fact St Luke used the word homily to describe the talking Cleopas and his companion did before Jesus joined them. That’s a reminder for all of us, those who go up to the lectern to preach on Sundays and those who take comfortable seats opposite to the lectern, that a homily is not limited to 10 minutes at Mass but is to be prolonged to the whole week when we are to talk faith to our loved ones at home, colleges at work, fellow students at school or University. That’s why I don’t need to preach for hours as I have faith that you can continue the faith talking during the week.
Answers can also come from the Archangel Gabriel but then get ready for being left dumbstruck.