A reflection for the third Sunday of Easter

Kelly Adamson reflects on the readings for April 23, 2023.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year A):

Acts 2:14, 22 – 33
Psalms 16:1 – 2, 5, 7 – 8, 9 – 10, 11
1 Peter 1:17 – 21
Luke 24:13 – 35

Reflection: Which witnesses do we believe?

I hear a pivotal question in our readings today, a pivotal question for a synodal church. Why don’t Cleopas and his companion immediately recognize Jesus? That’s close to the question I hear, but I hear a question beneath this, too. What passages of the prophets did Jesus highlight and how is he inviting us to see something new? That’s closer to the question I hear today, but I hear another before this. Before we pick up the story on the road to Emmaus, Luke says that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and many other women went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty. An angel told them that Jesus was alive. When they shared the good news, Luke says, “the words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.”

The question before the debate and maybe the question of the debate: Whose witness do we believe? And whose proclamation of the good news do we dismiss because of the identity of the witness? This is a central question of a synodal listening church today. Whom do we believe God speaks to and through?

This is the heart of the question that keeps coming up about women’s roles in the church. This is the heart of the question that keeps coming up about cultural and ethnic diversity in the church. This is the heart of the question that keeps coming up about welcome and inclusion of those whose contexts and experiences of love and family don’t fit into neat categories. This is the heart of the question that keeps coming up about the challenge of clericalism.

This is the question Peter is addressing to a perplexed crowd in Acts, a crowd debating what to make of the witness of men and women filled with the Holy Spirit testifying to God’s saving action in a variety of languages. In the verses we skip over today, Peter quotes the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy. Your young men and old men will see visions and dream dreams…Indeed, even upon servants and handmaids I will pour out my Spirt.”


Perhaps Jesus spoke of this on the way to Emmaus, that he is the fulfillment of the promise of the prophet Joel. In days to come, all identities shall give witness and their witness will be received and believed. Then, the eyes of the disciples were open to recognize Jesus and they believed the witness of the women.

Whose witness do we believe, celebrate, and confirm? In our daily lives and in the life of the church?

The question is not new. Neither is God’s outpouring of Spirit upon all and our call to open our eyes and ears to recognize Jesus, alive among all of us.

About the author

Kelly Adamson

Kelly Adamson is Director of Residence Life Ministry at the University of Dayton.

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