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SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

1-16With the end of Easter, we return to the season of Ordinary Time. This Sunday and next, however, are designated as special days that call our attention to central mysteries of our faith. Today the Gospel passage we read follows Jesus’ conversation with a Pharisee, Nicodemus, about what it means to be born of both water and the spirit. After the dialogue with Nicodemus, the author of the Gospel offers his own explanation of Jesus’ words. This is what we read in today’s Gospel, John 3:16-18.

In the context of today’s focus on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the reading calls our attention to the action of God, who reveals himself in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Father, out of love for the world, sent his Son into the world to save it. Through the death and resurrection of the Son, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. As three persons, God acts always as a God of love; he does not condemn the world but acts to save it.

The Gospel also calls attention to the response that is required of us. God’s love for us calls us to respond in faith by professing our belief in God’s son, Jesus, and the salvation that he has won for us. This profession of faith is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

There have been many attempts to try to bring this mystery into our level of understanding. Some have said that the Trinity is like water in its three phases: steam, liquid, and ice. My seminary theology professor kindly explained to me why this position was in error when I tried it out on him.
Others have said that the Trinity is like the same person with three different titles, such as a woman could be a mother, sister, and daughter all at the same time. With all things considered, none of these analogies or metaphors or symbols or whatever it is you want to call them is an accurate illustration.

Rather than trying to shrink a vast mystery into a short explanation, it seems better to ask ourselves what the Trinity has to do with us today. How does the Holy Trinity connect to our day-to-day lives?

In Jesus Christ, we see everything there is to see about God’s love. We see a person who entered our world in the humblest, most ordinary way possible. We see a person who loved everyone and who challenged everyone to be transformed. That’s an important point: Jesus never said to someone he met, “You’re perfect just as you are” but rather invited every person to be transformed by the power of God’s love. The mystery of the Holy Trinity pushes us to look further. Last Sunday and today, as we think about the Holy Spirit, we see yet another dimension of God’s love for us.

In the Holy Spirit, God has promised to be with us always, to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit’s guidance and love is inseparable from the love of God the Father and from the love of God the Son. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and Jesus and the Father are one. There is a mutual glorification at work, and each person of the Holy Trinity reveals something about the other persons of the Trinity. And that is what can draw us into the heart of God’s eternal love: The Trinity represents how God’s very being is about relationship and love. The Holy Trinity is itself the manifestation of God’s abiding promise to be with us at every turn, through every struggle.

This is Good News in our time. So often our temptation is to tear apart the fabric of society and put others down, but we see in the Holy Trinity a God who unites and glorifies. So often our impulse is to separate ourselves from that which challenges us, but we see in the Holy Trinity a God who is eternally steadfast. So often we limit our reality or our possibilities to what fits into our own finite understanding, but in the Holy Trinity, we see a God who promises to lead us into all truth, into deeper mystery.

Today, let us not try to explain away something that is unfathomable. Instead, let us join in songs and prayers of praise to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And let us give thanks that this Triune God loves us more than we can imagine. Let us give praise for our God’s everlasting presence in our lives in this age and in the age to come. And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons, one God, be ascribed all might, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever, world without end. Amen.

 

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

THE SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST

1-7The Season of Easter concludes with today’s celebration, the Feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s first reading.

The account in today’s Gospel, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. We already heard today’s Gospel proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Easter this year. In the context of the Feast of Pentecost, John 20:19-23 reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit.

The disciples were afraid! Their world had end abruptly on a Friday afternoon as their teacher, leader, and friend had died in shame outside the city walls. There was no good news as they scattered from the city in search of safety, security, and something that resembled sanity. The preaching and teaching, traveling and telling seemed for nothing. The miraculous healings and even the raising of Lazarus were distant memories. The peaceful kingdom Jesus preached now lay in ruin, like his body on the cross. The blessing of the poor, the meek, the persecuted, the mournful felt like empty words. The disciples were heartbroken.

Early the morning of that first Pentecost, the Archangel Michael stood beside the Risen Jesus in the heavenly court. They watched the folks gathered in the upper room, all 120 of them at prayer. “Lord, what’s plan B?” “There is no plan B, Michael.” “Look at those people, they are afraid, they cower at the sound of footsteps outside their door. They are afraid to speak, they afraid they will be arrested and killed even as you were. They don’t have the stuff to carry out the mission you have for them.” “I know. We are sending our Holy Spirit to empower them. Watch, Michael and learn. Humans are much tougher and better than even they know.”

Of all the persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the most abstract—God the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. The Holy Spirit is more difficult to describe—who proceeds from the Father and the Son and with the Father and Son is worshiped and glorified. Yet on that day, that first Pentecost, the Spirit’s impact was undeniable. The door flew open, the wind of the Spirit blew through the room and tongues of fire appeared over every head, everyone received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The timid people knelt to pray, bold saints rose up to carry the Good News to others. The disciples became different people in a new kind of community with gifts and capabilities they never had—barriers were broken, fear vanquished, and new beginnings started. The once weak, timid, and shallow were transformed into the bold and wise and all were proclaiming Jesus while all around them exclaimed, “Who are these people?”

Today we are gathered in one place, as diverse a group as the disciples in that upper room, bringing with us our own challenges, fears and joys. Many of us are struggling to cope with all that is happening—excited and worried as our children move on from primary school to high school to TAFE, or Uni, to new careers and lives; afraid about unresolved health issues that grow more complicated with each passing day; and a host of countless other anxieties and depressions about growing older while grieving the things we once did with ease and now can no longer do. And for this time, we acknowledge our needs, and with outstretched arms we wait for Holy Spirit to descend upon us because we know we can’t do it on our own.

But, to be truthful, most of us are skeptics and we sell the Holy Spirit short unsure and unconvinced that the Spirit still acts in that same dramatic and profound way as he did on that first Pentecost morning. We want to feel the Spirit blowing through our lives; we want to be infused with new faith and conviction with tongues of fire hanging over our heads; we want our own Pentecost experience. But we wonder and we doubt and convince ourselves that it may be easier to just remain behind locked doors.

However, the Holy Spirit still breathes upon us. The Holy Spirit is here revamping and rearranging our lives, just as Jesus promised, inspiring us to do what we cannot do on our own—taking risks we thought we did not have the courage to take; speaking up when we could not find the right words to say; stepping forward to minister and help convinced our gifts were inadequate and our capabilities insufficient; reaching out to help when it would be so much easier just to take care of our own problems; trusting that if we turn it over to the Holy Spirit that we’ll get what we need and what we’re asking for.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

1-7We are nearing the end of our Easter Season as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord this Sunday, and then Pentecost Sunday next weekend. Both feasts help us to further make connections to the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ with the lives, deaths, and resurrections of our own.

Today’s Gospel is taken from the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew. Here we are told that the eleven disciples go the mountaintop in Galilee, as Jesus had instructed through Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (cf. Matthew 28:9-10). They see Jesus, and he commissions them to baptize and teach, “to make disciples of all nations.” It is a task which Jesus had previously prepared his disciples for. However, earlier the Twelve were sent only to the House of Israel; in this Final Commission, the eleven are told to go to “all nations.” The mission of Jesus is now to be taken to all people; the task now is to baptize and to teach.

In the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, the Book of Acts, our first reading, the author elaborates on the reactions of the apostles: “When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?’”

God is showing steadfast love, sending these two messengers to remind them not just to stand and look up, but to look around, look ahead, and look toward the work they must do. They must proclaim “repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations.” They must be witnesses to what just happened. And they must not worry; they will receive the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission. Jesus has promised to send the Paraclete, the advocate in his absence, the power from on high. Jesus has told them to stay in Jerusalem to wait for it.

Going through something traumatic, it is easy to dwell on the past or fantasize about the future, but it is not easy to stay in the present. However, the present is exactly where Jesus wants the disciples to be.

Now the disciples should realize they are not only followers anymore, but also leaders. They cannot only stand there, looking up toward heaven. Rather, they need to follow Jesus’ commission, and they need to get into action. Nevertheless, before their action, before the Holy Spirit is bestowed on them, they need to reflect, to pray, and to bless God.

The verses after today’s reading from the Book of Acts tell us that, “When [the disciples] had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying . . . All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers” (Acts 1:13a, 14).

Finally, the disciples’ minds are opened to understand the Scriptures and the purpose of Jesus’ teaching. As we read in the Letter to the Ephesians, “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you,” From then on, the disciples of Jesus set up the Church and proclaimed the repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus to all nations. That is how we have had the Good News passed to us.

They have set a great example for us, the later followers. When we are at a loss, before we carry out our call, we need to pray and bless God, being in the very presence of God.

In our divided world, things seem to have changed for the worse. Life seems to be upside-down, with racial tension, terrorist attacks, chaos in the Middle East, and so much more. We may be like the disciples, with the tendency to look upward and not see the present, our call. But no, we must stay in the present, grounding ourselves in Jesus the Christ to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in his name, and bearing witness to the grace of God.

The reading from Matthew’s Gospel today for the Ascension can be understood as the beginning of the Church. Jesus commissions his disciples to continue to teach in his name and to bring others into the community of disciples through baptism. The Gospel ends, as it had begun, with the promise that Jesus will continue to be Emmanuel, “God with us” (cf. Matthew 1:23), Now, the time to get in action is here. It is not an easy task, but we will not be alone; the Holy Spirit will be with us. The power that God gives us, writes Henri Nouwen, “is not the power that controls, dictates, and commands; (rather) It is the power that heals, reconciles, and unites.” We receive this power – the power to heal, reconcile and unite – through our union with God. The Spirit empowers us to be healing presences in the world, to be channels of God’s compassion and blessing and peace to all whom we meet. Stay tuned and stay in the presence of God. Amen

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

1-1Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s Gospel: Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. In today’s reading Jesus offers encouragement to his disciples, who will soon see him crucified. He reassures them that even though he will leave them, he will not abandon them. Instead he will send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, through whom the disciples will continue to live in union with Jesus. Jesus contrasts his impending departure with the permanence of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will leave to return to the Father, but the Holy Spirit will remain with the disciples.

St Peter and St Paul knew God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew God as the One who keeps promises, a God of a second chance, and a God that saves, a God that can convert. St Paul told one group that God was a “living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea” (Acts 14:15), and he told the people of Athens that he was the One in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The second reading for this day from 1 Peter gives us a challenge. It says: ” Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have….” Today we need to articulate what our hope is.

Who do you know God as? Who do we know God as? We cannot tell of something or someone that we do not know. As Christians, we know God as a provider. The God we know is fair and just, generous and good. Our God is a loving, healing God. A right-on-time God. The God we know is a forgiving, gracious God because heaven knows we do not get it right all the time. We know God as Redeemer, Reconciler, Restorer and Resurrector, just to name a few.

That is who we know God as. And the God we serve proves this over and repeatedly. The God we serve places the right people in the right places to make things happen at the right time, giving us unmerited favour. And the God we serve makes a way when there seems to be no way.

But, there are individuals who do not know this God. The knowledge of the God we know is not everywhere you turn, because people do not really know who God is, and what God has done, and can do. God, for some, is only a God to question or blame or accuse or even curse when things go wrong. Many people believe that God is some sort of vengeful deity that must be appeased by good behaviour, just in case! But that is not the God that Peter or Paul proclaimed.

There really is a God who loves everyone, a God who came to serve us. Our God, who has given everyone life and being, and is interested in every part of your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem. God’s love, care, and identity have been made abundantly clear in the person and work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. As St Peter wrote “Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God”. That God should be known by everyone!

And therein lies our responsibility as Christians. We must bear witness to the God we know. In the person and work of Jesus, all the doubts and fears and anxieties over the “unknown God” happily disappear. God is not a distant, uncaring God. God is a very close and personal God.

So, who do you know God as? Who do we know God as? We cannot tell of something accurately if we do not know for ourselves, first-hand. You cannot give directions to a place if you do not know where it is. Similarly, we cannot share a God we do not know for ourselves with others, or people will get lost.

We are charged with being a witness for the God we know. We are charged with telling somebody about this God. Tell people about the love God has shown us in Jesus Christ. Our God should no longer be unknown. Our God is too good and too generous to remain that way.

God is the God who is known by loving-kindness to us, shown in the One who lived and died and rose again, so that we too might live with God. Each time we approach God’s altar, we are saying, “We believe. We believe in a God whose only begotten Son died for us all.” We are saying, “God, you are in me and I in You.”

But it does not stop there. When we make our way to God’s altar and ultimately out of the doors of the church, that is where the real work begins. Catholic Christianity is – at least on its good days – a faith of action, not of words. We do not remain in Jesus’ love by sitting and doing nothing – not even by prayer and reading the scriptures We are all called to be witnesses to the God we know – and our lives, our beings, our very essence should always, always reflect that. We remain in his love by living in his commandments.

Let us pray that our love may always show more in actions than in words.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

1-17The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once said: ‘We live forward, but we understand backwards.’ So, on Sundays and at other times, we go backwards to the life of Jesus, so that for now and for the future, we might become better people, his kind of people.

In Jesus’ time, people identified themselves with being Jewish or Roman or Samaritan or one of the many other cultures and nations that were intermingling under Roman conquest. Jesus himself was Jewish and worked within the framework of being Jewish to call people back to God.

When we celebrate Easter, we celebrate a very particular definition of what it means to be community: We are the people who believe in the God who has been revealed to us decisively in Jesus Christ. This separates us as a community, just as it separated the community for whom the Gospel of John was written.

Our Gospel of John was written over time. We don’t know exact times, but we can understand this Gospel as originating in an early Christian community struggling to separate itself from first century Judaism—that is, sometime between 75-100 AD. In 70 the Jewish temple was destroyed, and John’s community saw themselves to be a persecuted religious minority, expelled from the synagogue, their religious home, because of their faith in Jesus.

The early Christians were also living within a Hellenistic society—meaning that much of the worldview held at that time was that of the Greeks— the way the Gospel of John was written is also influenced by this fact. This Gospel was written to a community in a so that they could define themselves apart from the other religions that were around them. It helped define them as a community.

Things haven’t changed much since then. So how do we define ourselves as Christians now? How do we live as Easter people? Defining ourselves doesn’t mean that we throw stones at others. Defining ourselves means that we live out our lives in a particular way as community so that people can clearly see what being a Christian means

In our Australian culture, we are not persecuted in the same way that the early Christians were or how Christians are treated in other parts of the world. This is nice and comfortable for us, but it often makes it more difficult to show the world how a community that follows Jesus defines itself. The media makes this even more difficult when it highlights Christians that manifest bigotry, hate, and judgment on their neighbours, lumping us all into that category together. How do we continue to define ourselves in the midst of this? How do we show that we are God’s people?

In our Gospel lesson, we have part of the answer. We know the way to the place that Jesus is going because we, by definition, claim to know Jesus as God incarnate—God with us—God’s own son. Jesus was always going to return to God the Father because they were inseparable. Jesus himself was and is simultaneously the access to and the embodiment of life with God. This is our particular belief that helps define us as a Christian community and because of this belief, we are to love Jesus by doing his works and by keeping his commandments: love God and love one another.

How have we defined ourselves in our own community as Catholics? What does it mean to be Catholic? When we begin to lose our own identity, and lose our saltiness, we need to be recalled to the larger community of The Catholic Church and to the extended Christian community.

As Christians, we are not called to be like everyone else and as Catholics, we have our own distinct flavor. What is our identity in the wider community? What do we want to be known for?

The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the apostles themselves branched out from just “prayer and the word” to encompass a wide range of care for others including distribution of food to those widows in need. Look where and to whom Christian organizations reach today.

Sometimes an individual may feel that as one person an “I” cannot make a difference in the world, let alone a big difference. We know from Jesus that is not the case. He left his legacy to his apostles and through them, to us. If we examine the good done in the lives of those fuelled by the fire of Christianity, from the first apostles to our pastor or neighbour or co-worker or even ourselves, we know the Fire is still there, lighting the way and keeping us going.

The truth is that each person does, in fact, influence all those whom he/she encounters, one at a time. Each of us does that with positive or negative results. If we, as Christians, profess to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, we, too, must be “living stones” upon which the legacy of Jesus through Christianity will continue. We must live the Way, the Truth, and the Life authentically… as Jesus predicted his true followers would.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

1-10This Fourth Sunday of the Easter season is sometimes called Good Shepherd Sunday because in each of the three lectionary cycles, the Gospel reading invites us to reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In each cycle the reading is from the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel.

Today’s reading falls between the stories of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus. Both stories were proclaimed in the Gospels in this year’s season of Lent. Following the controversy that ensued when Jesus healed the man born blind, Jesus directs his allegory about the sheep and the shepherd toward the Jewish religious leaders of his time, the Pharisees.

Our world today, is full of conflict. We can see it daily on our televisions and read about it online. Yet, the basic conflict we experience is not truly on our streets much less in lands far from us. The conflict is always fought out in the human heart.

Jesus knew this at least as well as we do, for his world was not much different from our own. Indeed, many of the conflicts of his time and his land are with us even today. The human heart does not change so quickly or easily. And, the world today still has its share of “thieves and bandits,” as Jesus calls them in our Gospel account today, ready to snatch and scatter the flock.

We in the West like to think that we are in control, that no one can hurt us if we just stop the boats to keep others out, and that no problem is so intractable that it cannot be solved. All we need, we are tempted to believe, is a little common sense and some well-honed negotiating skills. After all, that is how deals are done. Yet events of the past few years must make us doubt our most cherished convictions. We do not have our act together. And, we remain as vulnerable to our own sinfulness, gullibility, and the blandishments of contemporary life as to far-off terrorists and revolutionaries.

Left to our own devices, we might not have chosen dirty, bleating, vulnerable sheep as the appropriate image for ourselves as Christians populating this post-modern world of digital efficiencies and sophisticated technological solutions. Surely, we share precious little DNA with ewes and rams after all. Yet as one animal behaviourist also reminds us, “We spent quite a long time evolving together” with our animal cousins. So, like it or not we probably have more in common with the sheep of Jesus’ story than we care to admit.

The shepherds of Jesus’ day endured sun and rain for days or weeks on end and were often as dirty and smelly as the flocks they tended. No smartly-styled business casual attire for them. But unlike their charges, shepherds then as now were vigilant and uncomplaining, watching for danger and trouble, providing pasture and allaying the thirst of their flocks. The shepherd knew his sheep as no one else. And the sheep followed him, as Jesus tells us, “because they know his voice.”

Jesus speaks of himself in this Gospel passage as “the gate for the sheep.” Shepherds of the period would often place their own bodies across the small opening or aperture of the sheep enclosure during times of peril, risking their lives for the sake of their flock. Perhaps it is this image of the shepherd as human gate that Jesus has in mind with this metaphor; his own presence stretched out, as on a cross, bridging the disciples’ –and our own — base insecurities. “Whoever enters by me,” he assures us, “will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

It is all too easy to lose direction — to lose our bearings and a sense of who we are and where we are going in our lives. It is all too easy, in other words, to go astray like lost sheep. But it is just then that we are most vulnerable to the “thieves and bandits” of the world, most vulnerable to the more destructive animal instincts that lurk in every human heart, our own included, but it does not make us notorious sinners. In the letter from Peter, the final line tells us we are lost sheep returned to the fold and to the shepherd and guardian of our living spirits.

We are all fed by the God of mercy and forgiveness. The shepherd speaks to us, calls us individually by name. The Shepherd knows us, calls us by name. He leads us no matter our condition, no matter our individuality. His voice welcomes us to the family, calls us home. This Shepherd does not separate us according to colour, to language, to national origin, nor even by religious tradition. His sheep know his voice and follow him, trusting him to bring us where we belong. It is the voice we must listen to hear. Christ’s voice always brings us together with each other and with the Life of God. What unifies leads to unity with the Trinity. What divides does not. In all this we walk by faith in the Risen One. For he lives!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

1-10On most Sundays during the Easter season in Cycle A, our Gospel is taken from the Gospel of John. This week’s Gospel, however, is taken from the Gospel of Luke. As in last week’s Gospel, today’s Gospel shows us how the first community of disciples came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. In these stories, we gain insight into how the community of the Church came to be formed.

The evening of the first day of the week two disciples set out on a journey, in Jerusalem, women have been coming and going, some exclaiming that they have seen the Lord, others recounting the words of angels. John and Peter run to the tomb only to find it empty. Confusion comes in and out of the house during the morning hours. Is it possible? Can we believe what these emotional women are telling us?

Cleopas and his companion confused and heavy-hearted, start on the trip down from Jerusalem. Luke tells us that Emmaus was about 10-12 kilometres from Jerusalem. As they continue the walk, someone else appears next to them, and they wonder why they had not heard or seen him before. He says to them, “What have you been discussing?”

It’s their turn to be astounded. The greatest and saddest event of their lives had occurred in the last three days. How was it possible that there were people left in their world who didn’t know? In our own experience when a beloved person dies, it is difficult to understand how the earth still spins and the sun still rises and life goes on.

Their reaction is perfectly natural. Cleopas asks the stranger: “Where have you been? Are you the only one who hasn’t heard what happened in the past three days? The best of men, a great prophet, one who did nothing but good, was killed. We had hoped he was our liberator.” The stranger is quiet, listening. The other jumps in. “But something else happened earlier this morning. Friends of ours went to his tomb and found it empty.” She hesitates, both excited and doubtful. “The women saw a vision of angels. And the angels told them—he’s alive.” His voice moves from excitement to bewilderment.

The stranger doesn’t pause but keeps walking and they follow, mystified. And then they hear his words: “Oh, how foolish you are and how slow your hearts are to believe all that the prophets have told you!” And now they listen as the stranger tells them stories from their long history and tradition, from the Exodus to the prophets to their own time. They hear the references to God’s anointed and, little by little, they understand that he is talking about their friend and teacher, and now everything falls into place: Jesus’ words about himself as he taught them and as he healed so many; Jesus’ continued references to his Father; Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. They understand that all this, even Jesus’ death, had been God’s plan from the beginning, and now hope fills them that not all is lost.

But time passes so quickly as they listen to his words! They are almost at their village. The stranger offers his farewell and makes as if to continue but they don’t want him to go. They say “Look, sir, it will soon be night. Please, come and stay with us.” And the stranger does not refuse. In the manner of Middle Eastern people through the ages, they invite him to eat with them, and he agrees. There is a loaf of bread next to the water and wine. He reaches for the bread and, they watch as he prays, breaks the bread and offers it to them. They cry out, “it is the Lord!” Recognition now fills them because of the familiar gesture of the Beloved, but now he is gone from their presence. His work is done but they are bereft. How is it that they had not recognized him all those hours he walked with them? They are ashamed. But that doesn’t last long. They have seen the Lord. They must share it with the others. Despite their tired legs, they return to Jerusalem.

They go to the same house where earlier they had left their fear-filled friends. But now they are all awake, rejoicing and sharing the good news with one another. “We have seen the Lord!” It becomes the most joyful refrain, whispered in amazement and then proclaimed in loud conviction. “We have seen the Lord!” Cleopas and his wife add to the chorus: “Yes, he was known to us in the breaking of the bread.”

As was the case for Cleopas and the other disciple that first Eastertide, the way to Jesus may not be obvious or simple.

Because of their example, however, we have been taught to keep looking, ever alert to the possibility of his surprising, entirely unexpected appearance in our midst.

As the text in the Book of Revelation has it “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me” (Rev. 3:20). In this Eucharist, he is with us as host and as food, as guest and as servant. Let us then open the door of our hearts to receive him, here, now, alive in our midst.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Uncategorized