Daily Homily: He Opened to Us the Scriptures

Wednesday Within the Octave of Easter

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Acts 3:1-10
Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
Luke 24:13-35

After announcing the resurrection of Jesus to the Jews, and baptizing three thousand, Peter and John go to the temple for afternoon prayer, for the daily evening sacrifice. When Peter encounters the crippled man, he ministers to him in the name of Jesus, the Lord. He gives the man what he has received from Jesus: the ability to act under the authority of Jesus and in union with Jesus. «This healing confirms the impression given at the beginning of Acts that Jesus would continue to speak and act through his disciples, and especially his apostles» (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, 3:6). The healing restores the man to the community and its worship. He no longer remains outside the temple, but can join the liturgical assembly, and praise and give thanks to God. The healing is a sign that the Messianic age has arrived: «Then the lame shall leap like a stag» (Isaiah 35:6; see Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, 3:7-8).

I’ve often wondered what Jesus said to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They walked about seven miles together and spoke for over two hours about the Old Testament and how Jesus fulfilled everything spoken about him in the Scriptures. Jesus began his explanation with Moses and the prophets. Let’s look briefly at the five books of Moses and the four major prophets.

In the Book of Genesis, God promises a savior, who will bruise the head of the serpent, the devil. Jesus is that savior, born of Mary. Jesus is the New Adam; Mary is the New Eve. Jesus is the New Abel, the innocent one who is handed over for death by one of his brothers. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham, through whom all nations are blessed. Jesus is the New Isaac, who is sacrificed for our sins. Jesus is king, who descends from Judah. Jesus is the New Joseph through whom the sons of Israel are saved from death.

In the Book of Exodus, God frees the people from the slavery of Egypt. On the night of the Passover, the lamb is sacrificed and its blood saves the people from the angel of death. God leads the people through Moses into the desert and to the Promised Land. Manna is given to the people for their journey. He establishes a covenant with the people at the foot of Mount Sinai, a covenant that was immediately broken by Israel. Jesus frees the people from the slavery of sin. He is sacrificed as the Lamb of God during the Passover and his blood saves the people from eternal death. Jesus is the New Moses who leads the people on a New Exodus to the Promised Land of Heaven. Jesus gives the people of God the new manna, bread from heaven, his own body and blood. Finally, Jesus establishes a New Covenant that can never be broken.

In the Book of Leviticus, God commands that sacrifice be offered for sin and to give thanks to God; Aaron and his sons are ordained priests; rules are established for purification and the people are commanded to be holy (19:2); the liturgical feasts of the year are also instituted (23:1-44); and twelve loaves of the bread of the presence are commanded to be placed on the table in the tabernacle. The Old Testament sacrifices are shown to be unable to take away sin; the sacrifice of Jesus, however, is able to forgive our sins. Jesus is not Levite priest, but is rather a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Jesus will give the new law to the people and command that they be perfect and merciful and their heavenly father is perfect and merciful. Jesus brings all of the Old Testament feasts to their fulfillment. Jesus remains with his people and is really present in the Eucharist.

In the Book of Numbers, Moses is lifts a bronze serpent on the pole and the people are saved from the fiery serpents. Jesus taught that when he is lifted up on the Cross, he the people will come to believe in him. Through Jesus’ passion on the Cross, we are freed from the ancient Serpent, the devil.

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses gives the people the second law and promises that God will raise up a prophet like him. Jesus is the prophet-like-Moses, the New Moses, who brings the old law to fulfillment.

In the Book of Isaiah, God gives a sign to his people: «Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel» (7:14). God also reveals the figure of his Servant (chapters 42, 49, 50, 52-53), who will suffer for the people, bear the infirmities of the people, and re-establish justice for all nations. Jesus fulfills all four of the songs. Jesus is the son, born of the Virgin Mary, who saves the people through his passion and death.

In the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet is appointed as a prophet to the nations and speaks the words of God to them. Jeremiah preaches repentance and promises a shepherd after God’s own heart (3:12-15). Since Israel and Judah have broken the covenant (11:10), an unbreakable New Covenant is promised (31:31-40). Jeremiah prophesies the fall of Jerusalem (21:6), and the people plot against Jeremiah (18:18) and threaten him with death (26:8-16). Jeremiah also promises a «righteous branch» from David, who will reign as king and will act wisely and execute justice and righteousness (23:5). Jesus is the Word of God, who inaugurates the Kingdom of God, preaching a doctrine of repentance. He is the Good Shepherd, who establishes the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah. Jesus foresees and predicts the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. The elders and chief priests plot against Jesus and condemn him to death for making himself equal to God. Jesus is the «righteous branch» and Son of David; he is the Wisdom of God and reestablishes justice on earth.

In the Book of Ezekiel, God promises that he will restore Israel (11:16-17; 20:33-44; 39:21-29); he will give the people a new heart and a new spirit (36:16-38). God condemns the false prophets who follow their own spirit (13:3). Israel is likened to an unfaithful bride (16:8-14), and even though, Israel has broken the covenant, God will establish a new covenant with Israel (16:59-63). Ezekiel measures the temple (40:1-42:20), which sees the Glory of the Lord enter. Through the apostles, Jesus restores the tribes of Israel and gives them a new heart and a new spirit. He condemns the pharisees as blind guides. He is the bridegroom who reaches out to Israel and, on the Cross, establishes the New Covenant, which forgives the sin of man and brings him into communion with God. The body of the risen Christ is the New Temple, where God is worshiped in spirit and in truth.

In the Book of Daniel, the prophet interprets the king’s dream. A stone will destroy the statue that represents five kingdoms. On this day, God will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed. Jesus is the rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) who inaugurates the Kingdom of God.

Throughout the year, as we read and hear the Scriptures, we are on the road to Emmaus with Jesus. He is the one who opens to us the Scriptures and brings us to the fullness of truth. He makes our hearts burn with love for him and the gift of the Eucharist.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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