The Road to Emmaus

In Luke’ narrative there is no account of the Resurrection; there in only the empty tomb – which is not the source of faith for people in Luke’s rendering of the gospel. Rather, in Luke’s gospel it is the empty tomb and the encounter with the person of the Risen Jesus. The empty tomb is what Jesus had said would happen “on the third day.”  The event of its discovery points back to Jesus’ word.  A word mostly fully realized later in the ‘breaking of the bread.”

Luke 24:13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.18 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?”19 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,20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.21 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. Continue reading

Why do you believe?

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. (John 20:1-9) Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Resurrection

resurrection-of-christ-iconIn the Book of Job, chapter 14, Job is pondering the deeper things of life. He is asking the age old question in the face of pending or possible death?  Will a person, once dead, live again? (יִ֫חְיֶ֥ה cf. Job 14:14). The question has now been answered. The tomb is empty. The defining conviction of Christian hope is that because Jesus was raised from the dead, the grave is not the final reality of human experience. “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is risen. Continue reading

One Short Sleep Past

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death…. One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.” So wrote the 17th century poet John Donne about the freedom from the seemingly unsurpassable power of death and the promise of new life, eternal life at the core of our Easter celebrations. Continue reading

Holy Week

When I was a child, I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, just to let them know that I was too sick to come to school that day.” So my father used to tell me. Hmmm…? Really – but hey, dad was really old, right? He probably grew up in the ice age and maybe the weather was very different back then. Such are the stories of our youth as parents try to teach us the lessons of life, sometimes wrapped in yarns, tall-tales, and memories of a different time and place. I still wonder how the to-and-from the store was uphill both ways. Continue reading

Story telling

There are lots of ways to tell a story. The one that comes most naturally is to start at the beginning and move ahead to the end. A to B, pillar to post, a straight a line as possible. There are other methods such as using flashbacks, telling the story in a non-linear fashion moving the reader/listener back and forth across the timeline, letting the story stitch itself together in the imagination of the audience. There are lots of ways to tell a story. Continue reading

Getting our bearings

May the grace and peace of the Risen Lord be with you. He is risen, Alleluia! Alleluia! I trust these words find you well, blessed, and part of the Easter people celebrating our awesome and loving God. As an Easter people we will not just celebrate one day — we are about to begin a whole season of Easter from now until Pentecost Sunday on May 20. In that same period, life begins to accelerate with the Annual Pastoral Appeal, Confirmation (April 29), First Holy Communion (May 5 and 6), Mother’s Day, final exams, graduations, summer vacation and camp planning, getting ready for college, and a whole list of things around the home and office. Continue reading

Eastertide

eastermorningAs a liturgical season, Lent is rather straightforward. It is kinda’ easy to write about. There is Ash Wednesday to dramatically mark its beginning, and we all know we are moving relentlessly towards Easter. We count the days even as we mark Lent’s beginning. The Ashes make a visible mark upon us, reminding us that we are dust and to dust we shall return – but that is not the end of the story. We are reminded to repent and believe in the Gospel – but that is not the end goal. We are encouraged to pray, fast, and give alms – but those practices are meant to make room in our lives for God that we too may rise to the newness of life at Eastertide. Continue reading

Holy Week – have you tried it?

I have been a Catholic all my life, and yet somehow Holy Week was not part of the landscape of my Catholicism growing up. Years later as an adult I was living in Northern Virginia and worshipping at a church out in a rural town northwest of Washington D.C. The town was in the rolling hills of the Catoctin – the first ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Continue reading

Easter Ongoing

eastermorningAs a liturgical season, Lent is rather straightforward. It is kinda’ easy to write about. There is Ash Wednesday to dramatically mark its beginning, and we all know we are moving relentlessly towards Easter. We count the days even as we mark Lent’s beginning. The Ashes make a visible mark upon us, reminding us that we are dust and to dust we shall return – but that is not the end of the story. We are reminded to repent and believe in the Gospel – but that is not the end goal. We are encouraged to pray, fast, and give alms – but those practices are meant to make room in our lives for God that we too may rise to the newness of life at Eastertide.

Perhaps some will wonder why I did not write, “the newness of life at Easter.” Isn’t Easter that day when we celebrate Jesus’ being raised from dead? Isn’t Easter the finish line, the ultimate, the highest of the high holy days, the pinnacle of the Church’s liturgical celebrations? No, yes, yes, and yes. Easter is not the finish line. Allow me some poetic license here, but Easter is to Eastertide, what Ash Wednesday is to Lent. It is the day we begin to count.

Eastertide is the 50-day season beginning on Easter Sunday with a dramatic mark in the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, relentlessly moving to Pentecost Sunday. Easter and Pentecost correspond to two Jewish holy days, the first day of Pesach and the holiday of Shavu’ot. In the Jewish tradition, the days between these holidays are known as Counting of the Omer. The idea of counting each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Easter is not the finish line, but the “Ash Wednesday” of Eastertide when we again begin to count, to spiritually prepare and anticipate the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost. If in Lent we have traditional practices to help prepare us to celebrate the Risen Christ, what are we practicing in Eastertide? I think the answer is profoundly simple: we practice what we witnessed on Easter – resurrection.

The Catholic writer, Megan McKenna, has a wonderful vignette about practicing resurrection in her book, Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected Stories from the Bible. She had shared in a Bible study, “that life happens when we are interrupted, and that some of the most powerful acts of resurrection happen to the least likely people; that we are the people of resurrection and hope, called to live passionately and compassionately with others, to defy death, to forgive, and to bring others back into the community, to do something that is life-giving, that fights death and needless suffering.” It is at this point that someone asks, somewhat harshly, “Have you ever brought someone back from the dead.”  I love her answer: “My response was, ‘Yes … Every time I bring hope into a situation, every time I bring joy that shatters despair, every time I forgive others and give them back dignity and the possibility of a future with me and others in the community, every time I listen to others and affirm them and their life, every time I speak the truth in public, every time I confront injustice — yes — I bring people back from the dead.”’

If in Lent we made room for God, here in Eastertide we work with Christ, practicing what he has already shown us: newness of life. And so we practice resurrection in our own lives by introducing joy, forgiveness, listening, justice, compassion… and so much more. And we count the days to Pentecost when the Spirit is given that we may take the honed skills of resurrection into a waiting world.