Sunday, May 4, 2014
Second Sunday of Easter
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
Luke 24: 13-35
Acts 2: 14, 22-33
Ps 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Pt 1: 17-21
Recognizing the Presence of Christ
Christ is a sneaky one….at least that is what is revealed in this week’s gospel – the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Two disciples leave Jerusalem, distraught over the death of their teacher and friend and encounter a “stranger” on their journey home. They tell the stranger the story of Jesus’ death and reported resurrection and then the stranger unfolds the scripture for them that supports the resurrection of the Christ and its redemptive qualities. Even so, they still do not know it is Jesus who walks beside them. It is not until the meal, at the breaking of the bread, that they suddenly realize it is Jesus, and then he disappears. Only upon Jesus’ disappearance are they conscious of the feelings they had while walking beside them that might have clued them into it being Jesus in their midst, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
What the disciples identified in this moment of hindsight was a physical sensation – an inner felt sense – of what Christ felt like. In this, they now had a tool by which they could continue to recognize the presence of Christ in their midst. Through this reading, we are invited to begin to pay attention to our own life experiences – physical, emotional, mental, visual, auditory sensations that might indicate God’s Presence and Action in our lives.
How have you, only in hindsight, recognized the Presence and Action of God in your life?
How might you use past experiences to discern the Presence and Action of God in your life as it is happening?
How might you use these inner sensations as a source of guidance, comfort or support in your life?
Hindsight, it is said, is 20/20. In this week’s spiritual exercise, you will be invited to look over the significant events of your past and reflect on how you experienced the Presence and Action of God.
- On a blank sheet of paper, draw a timeline, beginning with your birth and ending at your current age.
- Pause for a moment to reflect on the significant events in your life – the joyful, the sorrowful, the challenges and the joys.
- On the timeline, mark the significant events.
- Choose one event. Through your imagination, go back in time to the event. Imagine the event as it unfolds in your mind, allowing yourself to re-live the experience.
- After the story of that event has come to a natural conclusion in your mind, reflect on how God was present to you through that experience. Be attentive to any inner sensations you may have had that indicated the Presence of God (warmth, expansiveness, peace, joy, comfort, support, love, inspiration to act, etc.) Make note of those inner sensations.
- Use these sensations as a barometer for discerning the Presence and Action of God in future experiences of your life.
Discernment is the process through which we distinguish the Presence and Action of God in our midst. Through discernment, we sort out the voice of God from the voice of our ego or false-self. Discernment is an on-going and imperfect process because of our humanness, and there is one scripture that provides guidance in our process of discernment:
Whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Cor 3: 16-17
In other words, we can know it is the voice of God when it gives us an inner sense or experience of freedom and when it leads us toward freedom.
What does freedom feel like inside of you?