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Daily Archives: April 25, 2020

THE EUCHARIST IS OUR EMMAUS

THE EUCHARIST IS OUR EMMAUS

(A biblical reflection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR A], 26 April 2020)

Gospel Reading: Luke 24:13-35 

First Reading: Acts 2:14,22-33; Psalms: Psalm 16:1-2,7-11; Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21 

The Scripture Text

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, name Cleopas, answered Him, “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the One to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35 RSV)

In today’s Gospel two disciples are struggling to make sense of a recent event: the death of Jesus. They leave Jerusalem over their shoulder as the place where their hopes met with final defeat. When a stranger joins them on the road, they tell the story of their disappointment. Jesus, the one they had hoped would set Israel free, is now dead. In their story it becomes clear that they cannot hold two things together: their hope in Jesus and His death. The death of Jesus cancels out their hope. They feel hopeless and helpless.

The two disciples cannot understand how the death of Jesus can be understood as anything more than a tragic end to a life of promise. Like most people they believe that if you haven’t achieved what you set out to do before your death, you will never achieve it in death itself. When you are dead, it’s too late for everything. Death is the end of the road of promise. So the disciples mourn not only the death of Jesus but the death of their relationship with Him. Now they are ex-disciples of a dead prophet. With faces to match their story.

Only when they have finished their own story does the stranger begin his own. He invites them to look at the past again, this time in the light of scripture. He gives a wholly different interpretation of the same event as he sees the death of Christ as something which was essential for His glory. According to the stranger, the death of Jesus was the achievement of His mission – not the collapse of it.

As the stranger helps the two disciples to make sense of the past in a new light, they respond by inviting him to stay with them. When they go in to table they break bread together. The stranger gives himself away by giving himself way to them. He is the risen Jesus, and He leaves them with hearts that burn and with eyes that see. Not only does He help them to interpret the past in their new experience of Him as LORD, He gives them a new future. They can now face Jerusalem even in the dark, and they return there to share their story with the others.

In their new experience of Jesus as LORD, the disciples’ past is changed. TE hey can now revisit the past with the new light and the new love that they have experienced. They take the light of Easter Sunday back into the darkness of Good Friday, and everything looks different now. Only the risen Jesus makes sense of everything that went before. In His word and in the breaking of the bread the past is brought up to date. The past  is now interpreted in the light of the great truth that Jesus is risen and is LORD.

Breaking of bread at Emmaus

When we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist we too listen to the word of God and break bread together. Jesus comes among us not as a stranger; rather, He comes to us in word and sacrament to give us new hope to face the future with faith in Him. Our own stories may not sound very different from the two forlorn disciples on the road to Emmaus: we too may be covered in disappointment; we too may have a past that makes little senses to us. But we are invited to tell our stories to the Lord, to listen to Him as He speaks His word, and to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. Only then can we look with understanding at the past, and with hope look to the future.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I want to know You more deeply. I want to hear Your voice in Scripture. I want to recognize You in the “breaking of the bread”, to see Your face in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Come and show me Your ways so that I may have life. Amen.

Jakarta, 25 April 2020 [Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MARK 16:15-16 [NKJV] – (Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 16:15-20)

Jakarta, 25 April 2020 (Feast of St . Mark, Evangelist)

A Christian Pilgrim