Turning out well

I have been leading Bible studies for a long time now. I think the first one was in 1984. When I think back, it seems to me, that each time we study St. Luke’s account called the “Road to Emmaus” the same basic questions arise. “How could these two people, clearly disciples, people who may have followed Jesus for maybe three years – having seen the miracles, the mighty works, heard the preaching, seen Lazarus raised from the dead, and heard Jesus proclaim that he would be put to death and then rise – how could they then hear the reports of the empty tomb and then walk away in a slow descent into despair? Don’t they get it?  How could they not get it? Where is their faith?” Continue reading

Spring cleaning

I would guess many of you are doing special projects, taking up hobbies, or just “spring cleaning” – part of life under “safer-at-home” protocols. The other day I was starting to “spring clean” my room in the parish office. The problem with such endeavors is that you open something, get fascinated by the contents, show the object to someone else, begin to tell stories, and the next thing you know a whole lot of time has passed by. Hopefully, it was not the first box you opened as it might completely derail the larger cleaning project. In my case, it was not the first box, but it was the second. And look what was inside! Continue reading

Perception and Response

Next Sunday is the 3rd Easter of Sunday. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

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. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 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. 24 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.” Continue reading

What wondrous love

I have been leading Bible studies for a long time now. I think the first one was in 1984. When I think back, it seems to me, that each time we study St. Luke’s account called the “Road to Emmaus” the same basic questions arise. “How could these two people, clearly disciples, people who may have followed Jesus for maybe three years – having seen the miracles, the mighty works, heard the preaching, seen Lazarus raised from the dead, and heard Jesus proclaim that he would be put to death and then rise – how could they then hear the reports of the empty tomb and then walk away in a slow descent into despair? Don’t they get it?  How could they not get it? Where is their faith?” Continue reading

Invited

Today’s gospel is the Lukan account of the post-Resurrection encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I am always reminded on this passage’s highly Eucharistic content: blessing, broke, gave. The word pattern of the miracle feeding of the crowds, the word pattern of the Last Supper – all echoed in the simple words of this gospel

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?” (Luke 24:30-32) Continue reading

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

Making sense

The three saddest words in Scripture, or in our lives, are. “We had hoped….” For these travelers, it is “we had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.”   “We had hoped,” but those hopes were dashed upon the wood of the cross and buried in a tomb. Now they are walking away from the rumors of Resurrection in a slow descent into despair. For years, the power of God had seemed so close. The disciples saw the miracles, heard the preaching, saw Lazarus emerge from the tomb, and so much more. Now it all lays powerless in the tomb. “We had hoped…” Continue reading

Where do you look?

Our gospel on this 3rd Sunday of Easter is St. Luke’s telling of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a story about a journey of faith even as it is a journey to faith. The thing about journeys is that you often do not realize that you are on one, or if you do, may not recognize that the nature of the journey has changed. The two disciples had journeyed to Jerusalem with one set of hopes and expectations. They were following Jesus, were in Jerusalem for the events of Holy Week, and saw one journey seemingly end at Golgotha.  Continue reading

Emmaus: at table

At The Table With Jesus The disciples are struck by what Jesus has said and ask him to stay with them even has he appears to be traveling on. Alan Culpepper (479) offers an interesting insight into the simple passage (v.28):

Jesus’ first action is probably significant both thematically and theologically. He “walked ahead as if he were going on.” On the surface it is a gesture of social deference and polish. It implies that Jesus was not really going further but that he would not impose on the disciples to offer him hospitality. In Near Eastern customs, the guest was obligated to turn down such an invita­tion until it was vigorously repeated (see Gen 19:2-3). Theologically, Jesus’ action demonstrates that he never forces himself upon others. Faith must always be a spontaneous, voluntary response to God’s grace. Thematically, the action is sugges­tive, because all the way through the Gospel Jesus has been going further. When the people at Naz­areth rejected him, Jesus “passed through the midst of them and went on his way” (4:30). When the crowds wanted to prevent Jesus from leaving them, he responded, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also” (4:43). He preached in synagogues and with­drew to desert places to pray (4:44; 5:16). In Galilee he was constantly on the move, and from Luke 9:51 until 19:44 he is on the way to Jerusalem. The Lukan Jesus, therefore, was always going further, and in the book of Acts the gospel of Jesus will spread “to the ends of the earth.” Continue reading