Pastor's Desk Notes

April 14, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is a story I heard as a seminarian and which I have recounted many time since. If it isn’t true, it ought to be. The story goes that a great professor of theology gained a reputation among his students, often immersed in a skeptical university environment, for his plainspoken approach to the discipline. At the beginning of each lecture, after a prayer, he would look at the lecture hall and say simply, “The Incarnation happened,” before proceeding with the lecture of the day. He signaled the end of his discourse by repeating once more, “The Incarnation happened.” If the exact details of the story have gotten blurry in the retelling, the fault is mine, but I believe the message holds up. Jesus Christ, God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, really and truly took on our human flesh, uniting His divinity to a real human nature, and He dwelt among us. This is no mere pious tradition, it is historical fact. The great G.K. Chesterton suggests that there is only one real subject, one real topic which all other things depend upon, and that is the Incarnation. Our theological understanding, our whole spiritual life, is built not on some superstition, but on the bedrock of God’s intervention in human history.

As the Easter season continues, the Church proclaims not only that the Incarnation happened, but also that the Resurrection happened. Just as Jesus took on our human flesh and lived in this world, so too He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. And, as we joyfully claim each Sunday in the Creed, He rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. The tomb that once held the body of the Lord remains empty to this day because the Resurrection happened. The triumph over sin and death accomplished by our Lord through His Passion and glorious Resurrection is a reality with which we, and the Apostles, will be confronted again and again in this holy season. We will also see how this was God’s plan all along.

Today’s Gospel begins with the two disciples recounting what happened when they met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. On that seven-mile journey, our Lord appeared to them and opened their minds and hearts to understand everything that the Scriptures had said about the Messiah, that is, everything that God had revealed as His plan for the salvation of the world. Their eyes, finally, were opened when Jesus broke bread before them. With that story told, the Risen Jesus stands in their midst, proof of the Resurrection in the flesh. As He had on the road to Emmaus, Jesus summarizes all of Scripture, showing the apostolic band that everything written in the prophets pointed to the Messiah’s glorious resurrection. With all of this said, Jesus commissions the apostles: “You are witnesses of these things.”

It is in the apostolic mission that past meets present, that the stubborn fact of the Incarnation and Resurrection become more than events in an historical moment and are transformed into present realities. From Jerusalem, the Apostles will go into the whole world proclaiming both the historical events and the current reality that Jesus is alive, God has visited his people and still dwells among us. The mission of the Apostles, to be witnesses of these things to the whole world, is the mission of the Church, and thus the mission of each individual Christian. We are called to be witnesses of these things. Our witness will be stronger if we understand the history, the prophecies, and the living reality of our Risen Savior. The Easter season invites us to learn our history – the Incarnation and the Resurrection happened – and to engage with the God who is present with us here and now – Jesus is risen from the tomb and is alive, and we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist. The Incarnation happened. The Resurrection happened. You are witnesses of these things.


Fr. Sam