Third Sunday of Easter

Apr 14, 2021 | Gospel Reflections

Third Sunday of Easter – Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

April 18, 2021

Luke 24: 35-48

This gospel reading comes after the experience of two disciples in the Emmaus narrative. They meet a man – Jesus – who, full of understanding and empathy, joins them on their journey and listens to their story. But who knows this story better than Jesus himself? And yet, He does not interrupt but listens right to the end, until there is something that He can explain from the Scriptures. The climax of the meeting comes when He breaks bread with them. They are seized by great joy and leave immediately to tell the others.

The need to tell what they experienced surfaces here again. They seek fellow travelers and cannot stop talking about it. If you have the good fortune in your life to meet people who listen to you with the greatest attention, then you know the joy that can fill your heart, and then you go and tell people about this because you want to share your joy. You can’t keep joy to yourself; it erupts and has to be shared.

Doesn’t this call every Christian to listen attentively to the life stories of other people? Do we really do this to the best of our ability? Do we understand that this has a healing effect on people who have been thrown off balance, whose experiences have caused them to lose their way, who are at their wits’ end? And as we listen, our sight can be obscured by ghosts until our spirit is enlightened from the inside out.

In the gospel story, it is Jesus himself who appears unexpectedly and greets them with words of peace, speaks words of encouragement, and asks the disciples why they are filled with doubt. He gives them the chance to put it, however clumsily, into words. At the same time, He meets their doubt with straightforward simplicity: “Look at my hands and feet. It’s me. Touch Me and look: ghosts don’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” The ghost stories are unmasked and reduced to their true proportion and significance.

Have we experienced this kind of disillusionment that also energizes us? It is Jesus who, with his question “Do you have anything to eat?” helps move his disciples to action. They rouse themselves and give him the broiled fish that He eats in front of them. They must face reality. Jesus listens with full attention to people and gives them the ability to pick up the thread of their lives again and to devote themselves to dealing with the everyday small tasks of life.

After the meal, it is an excellent moment for Jesus to reach for the Scriptures and to explain things. For a second time, referring to Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, Jesus talks about the Scriptures being fulfilled. He makes their minds accessible through his “Being.” He is the Word of the Father; He proclaims.

Can I, can you, can we make minds accessible for Him through our “being,” through our gestures in everyday life? So that suffering, dying, resurrection, proclamation, conversion, and forgiveness in His Name are given sense and meaning? Scripture can help us in this! How do we ourselves understand these concepts that we have carried around with us for years and our answers of faith to them? How do each of us give form to them?

We must witness from the place where we stand. Whatever happens in life, whatever happens to us, or whatever our lot is – the call to witness still rings!


Luke 24: 35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

Nina Vandamme was born in Antwerp in Belgium: she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame at the 8th of September 1967. Before entering the Sisters of Notre Dame, she taught for 3 years at the first year of a primary school in Antwerp. After her novitiate, she taught for 9 years at the SND primary school in Berchem again in the first year and worked for another 9 years as a remedial teacher for children with learning difficulties in the same school. After that she was missioned as a principal to the primary school and kindergarten of Antwerp for 13 years. Sr. Nina is very grateful for what she has been able to learn from children. She says: “They have been my teachers. I sometimes wonder who was teaching whom: did I teach them or did they teach me?” She responds: “The answer is probably: ‘a bit of both’, but at all events I owe them a great debt–especially, those who challenged me to keep searching until I found what they needed and refused to let me give up.”