‘Dear sisters and brothers’ – Bishop Vincent’s homily for 23 April 2023

24 April 2023
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A 2023 

Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-23; Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

23 April 2023


Walking the journey of transformation


Dear sisters and brothers,

We have all experienced pain and suffering in various ways and varying degrees. It might have been a dream of a happy marriage shattered by a bitter divorce; a promising young life that ended abruptly by suicide; a family life irreversibly damaged by disastrous circumstances. In a couple of days, Australia celebrates Anzac Day. We remember those who laid down their lives on the battlefields abroad, those who grieve their deaths and others who bear the wounds of trauma of conflict.

The Word of God this Sunday teaches us that disappointment and pain ought not to have the last word on the people of faith. For if there is anything certain in our faith journey, it is the pattern of growth through suffering. Christian discipleship invariably involves the pain of letting go, of beginning again, of going forward with fresh vision and renewed courage and trust. We are called to follow the example of Jesus who lived his life by giving it away for others.

In the first reading, Peter – filled with the Holy Spirit – is able to articulate the core message of the Good News. Instead of relishing the public admiration after he had healed the cripple, Peter tells the people that it is the power of the Suffering Servant Jesus that makes all things possible. It is he, Peter continues, who was raised to new life and from God’s right hand sent the outpouring of the Spirit. All the humiliation, rejection and death that happened to and through Jesus was part of the process of accomplishing the divine plan for the world. Peter is a different person who has converted from his obsession with worldly power and embraced the path of weakness, vulnerability, suffering and death.

The Gospel speaks about transformation in terms of having our sense of value and outlook on life changed according to God’s vision. The disciples were transformed into positive people and agents for change, not because their circumstances had changed but because they had undergone a process of metanoia.

On the dusty road to Emmaus, the two disciples walked home with heavy steps and downcast faces. So overcome with hurt and disappointment that they did not recognise Jesus who joined their company and walked by their side. They gave vent to their feelings when the stranger asked them about what had happened. They retold the story of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. It was a story seen through their narrow, myopic and misguided prism. Through this prism, the Christ had failed himself and failed them by dying on a cross.

Jesus the stranger, however, saw things differently. He began to open their eyes to the way God worked through suffering and tragedy. As in the past, and now in the present and in the future, God’s route to the fullness of life is intimately bound up with the cross. Jesus challenged his disciples to look at his life of humble service, compassion, justice and solidarity which culminated in his courageous acceptance of death on the cross with new eyes. He helped them to understand the way God worked in human history. Their eyes were opened and they recognised him at the moment of breaking of the bread, that is, the eucharistic re-enactment of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

My dear friends,

The disciples were tranformed after their encounter with the risen Jesus. They were re-energised for the mission as they returned to Jerusalem and shared their experience. The story of Emmaus is emblematic of our journey of discipleship. It reminds us that the God of transformation is with us. Out of the ashes of our shattered hopes and broken dreams, God makes new things grow.

Our diocese is committed to walking together the contemporary journey of Emmaus through the Diocesan Synod. Responding to Pope Francis’ call to be a synodal Church and leveraging the momentum of the recent Plenary Council, we hope to be able to revitalise our local Church and discover together a path of renewal for all of us. I encourage you to participate in prayer, listening, discernment and local action, guided by the Holy Spirit, as we seek to witness to the Gospel and foster a more welcoming, compassionate, and humble Church. The Diocesan Synod will have a significant impact on the way in which we live out our baptismal co-responsibility and mission. It will inspire us on the way we can be a more fit-for-purpose church moving forward.

Jesus demonstrated that a life worth living was a life lived for others. He showed by his own example that the love given wholly for others even at the cost of one’s life is the risk worth taking. May we, like the disciples, live out the paschal mystery and fulfil our missionary vocation of transforming the world. Let us accompany one another along this path with firm hope and abiding trust in our God.


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