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“Everything Must Be Fulfilled”

This Sunday’s Gospel is the continuation of the story of the appearance of Jesus to two disciples on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They thought that after their Teacher died on the cross everything was over and that it was time to return to their regular way of living. They did not recognize Jesus at once and were surprised that He did not hear anything about the things that happened a few days earlier with Jesus. (Jesus had to smile to himself hearing this!) So Jesus said to them: How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory? “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures.” (Lk 24:25-27). He repeated this, as we heard in todays’ Gospel, saying that “everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear St. Peter return to these words of Jesus as he proclaims that “God has brought to fulfillment what He had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer” (Acts 3:18). Such an insistence on the fulfillment of the words that God sent to the people for centuries is not accidental.

When Jesus appears to the assembled disciples, the first thing He does is remove the fear that they are seeing a ghost. He does it by letting His physicality be perceived as clearly as possible. They can see the wounds on His hands and feet; they can even touch them. Finally, they see Him eat earthly food. But all of this is an introduction to His real teaching. He wants them to recognize that what He said during His mortal life about fulfilling the entire Old Covenant has been fulfilled in His death and Resurrection. This event is the essence of all the Scriptures.  This essence, whose core is the “forgiveness of sins”, is to be proclaimed to “all nations” by its witness, the Church. Today, we clearly understand that mankind’s dramatic history with God as described in the Old Testament has no other goal and thus, no other meaning, than the ultimate salvific death and Resurrection of Jesus for the entire world.  God has been unceasingly working for millennia — working hard, frequently misunderstood, rejected and mistreated — in order to reestablish what He intended for His children: an everlasting life with Him, together with angels and a multitude of saved people. This is what the Apostles preached, and this is what the Church continues to preach.

May His name be praised! Alleluia!

Fr. Mark Jurzyk