Thursday, April 24, 2014
“Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ...”
"Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional -- rather than as an encounter with Christ -- which explains why they don't see it as a source of joy." - Pope Benedict XVI, May 2004
Gospel Text: (LK 24:35-48)
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
How does Jesus encounter us?
Jesus encounters us and we him in the ordinary events of our lives. As Jesus approaches us as we are with our ups and downs our grace and sin, we are changed by the encounter. To encounter someone implies a relationship with that person that is special in its depth. How well the disciples knew Jesus, but now he is coming to them at an even deeper level of intimacy.
To encounter someone is a more profound experience than simply being physically next to her/him. I may be at an airport physically present to hundreds of people, but that is not an encounter. I recall an airport scene that took place close enough for me to observe. There was a group that I sized up as a family gathered around a uniformed soldier. The interactions among them spoke of love and concern. I reckoned that the family was sending their son, brother, grandson on a possibly dangerous mission for the young man as a soldier.
Our encounter with Jesus is like that story: filled with deep emotions and love given and received. We are in a love relationship with Jesus. Thus encounters with him are suffused with care, concern, forgiveness and love beyond measure.
We encounter him in others, those who love us and we them. We encounter him in the community of faith that gathers to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments like baptism and the anointing of the sick.
To celebrate Easter is to be attentive to the many ways that Jesus encounters us, in the poor, the sick, the needy, those who treat us with care and invite us to deeper love in all the events of our human life.
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 5:54 AM