Wednesday, April 27, 2011

People see God every day, they just don't recognize him

"Keep your heart pure. A pure heart is necessary to see God in each other. If you see God in each other, there is love for each other, then there is peace." - Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Gospel text (Lc 24,13-35): 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 the bread.

Today we are reassured by the Gospel that Jesus is alive and continues to be the center around which the disciples' community is built. The gathering of the community, the dialog with brothers and sisters who share the same faith, the reading of the Word of God, the love shared and expressed through fraternity and service, is precisely the ecclesial context in which the disciples can encounter the Resurrected.

If I were one of the disciples and had to witness the traumatizing experience of watching my teacher, my leader… my friend die on the cross, someone who I believed was the One whom I’ve been waiting for, the Christ, all my hope would be lost. It wouldn’t just be lost; it would be shattered.

Watching Jesus be taken to Pilot, found guilty and then sentenced to death. Watching him be beaten, stripped of his clothes, forced to carry a cross up a hill, and finally, seeing him nailed to it. I was supposed to watch all of this and still have hope? I was supposed to watch this and still have faith that God will never forsake me, that this was all part of a greater plan? I don’t think so. My human mind would not have been able to understand or grasp what God was doing in that moment. My human mind would not have been able to guess or understand what God was doing then and still can’t now.

Maybe this passage isn’t meant to just tell a story; maybe it is supposed to show us that we can never imagine anything as great as God’s plan. Maybe it is supposed to show us that although it may not be the timing we had hoped for or the method we had anticipated, God never goes back on his promises; that even in the most hopeless situations God still has a plan, one greater than any of us could have imagined. I couldn't then, and I can’t today imagine what God has in store for those who love him.

So, whatever it may be: whatever fears, doubts, hurt or worry we have in our lives, let us be challenged to find faith, hope and love in the midst of the storm. To find love in the Father that sent his only Son for us. To find reason to hope in the darkest part of night. And to have faith in the promises our Father has made to us.

The story of the disciples of Emmaus is useful as a guide to us in the long journey through a path of doubts, afflictions and sometimes even bitter disillusionments; the Divine traveler continues to be our companion who introduces us, by explaining the Scriptures, to the comprehension of God's mysteries. Upon the fulfillment of this encounter the light of the Word is followed by the light that emerges from the «Bread of Life», through which Christ fulfills perfectly His promise that He would be with us «always, until the end of the age» (Mt 28:20).

The Holy Father Benedict XVI explains that «The proclamation of the Lord's Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live».

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