Today the Gospel of Luke brings us back to the upper room on Easter Sunday night where Jesus suddenly appears to the Apostles and to the two Disciples who saw Him on the road to Emmaus.

The Apostles, like the two Disciples on the road to Emmaus had been experiencing a terrible spiritual and emotional trauma. They had been with Jesus during His entire public ministry. They had heard Him preach powerfully. They had been witnesses to His miracles of healing. Then Jesus raised three people from the dead, and they saw and spoke with the raised son of the widow of Naim, the raised daughter of Jairus and Lazarus, who had been dead and buried for four days. They had listened to the cheering crowds as Jesus entered the Holy City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. They had believed that, in Jesus, all the promises of the ages would be fulfilled.

But then their dreams were shattered on Good Friday. They were brokenhearted. They were terrified, afraid of life itself. Appearing in the midst of this frightened and surprised group of followers, Jesus comes to persuade them that He is alive: “Why are you troubled? Why do you question given the strength they need in your hearts?” The Apostles are to preach the good news of redemption to the whole world, to be witnesses of His Resurrection.

In this Resurrection account, Luke recounts the “Story of new beginnings.” The Apostles were given another chance. Our God is a God who encourages people to get up after a fall and begin again. As Jesus gave the two Disciples another chance when they were discouraged on the road to Emmaus, as He gave Peter another chance when he denied that he even knew Jesus, as He gave the Apostles another chance when they had failed Him. He wants to give each of us another chance for our mistakes and sins – if only we ask Him. He is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. If we have made a mess of our lives, God wants us to get them right again. If we have strayed from the church, God wants us back. If we are at odds with one another, God wants us to be reconciled.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke is speaking after an incident of healing that took place in Jerusalem. Peter was in Jerusalem preaching. He was a new man, filled with confidence through the Power of the Holy Spirit. He defied the ban on preaching in the name of Jesus and proclaimed fearlessly that the only way to salvation is through, with and in Jesus Christ in the church which He personally established.

The crowd to whom Peter was preaching had just witnessed the healing of a crippled man. Peter was attempting to persuade the crowd that the innocent Jesus whom they had handed over for crucifixion was the promised Messiah. Peter reminded them of prophecies about the Savior describing Him as the “Suffering Servant” foretold by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. He used other terms like “The Holy One,” “The Righteous One,” and “The Author of Life” – arguing that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. He urged the Jews to recognize their Savior in the suffering, crucified Jesus, who has now been glorified and raised from the dead.

Peter showed the world, by his faith and preaching, what it means to believe in and to be committed to Jesus Christ. He brought thousands into the church. The name that the Lord had given to him became a reality: “Peter, you are rock, and on this rock, I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter and the other Apostles ultimately gave their lives in the name of Jesus.

Just as the Disciples of Jesus realized that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, they were suddenly forced to make a radical change in their lives. We too are called upon to do the same. We are called upon to be witnesses, to take on the mission of Christ, a mission of reconciliation and peace, and bring that mission to life by living it in our families, in our workplace, and in our parish. Our lives must reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ, and our faith commitment to Him must be grounded

In the celebration of “The Sacrifice of the Mass”, Jesus longs to have our hearts burn with love for Him, as did the hearts of the two Disciples who recognized when they ate on the road to Emmaus; for it is in the Eucharist that we are truly united to the Risen Lord in the mystery of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

In this holy season of Easter, we need to hear and respond to those healing words of Jesus: “Be not afraid!” We need to recognize Jesus as we celebrate the sacrifice of the mass. We need to be drawn to the mission of Jesus and have the courage to practice what we say we believe. We need to bring others to the true faith by the example of our lives. And finally, we need to totally surrender our lives and everything we have to Him, so that in the words of St. Paul: “It is now no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me.”