Gospel Thoughts 8 May 2011, Emmaus

May 7, 2011 at 11:26 Leave a comment


Today’s Gospel is the Story of Jesus’ disciples meeting him as they are walking to Emmaus. They are discouraged and disturbed because their time with Jesus and recent events had not gone as they had hoped. Jesus joins them as they walk along, listens to them, and then offers them some insight and context to what they have been experiencing. He joins them for a meal, and they “recognize him in the breaking of the bread”. In the reading from Acts, Peter and the others had hidden behind locked doors because they were afraid of the people. When Jesus came to them through the doors, they received the courage to do what they had to do – share with the people how they knew Jesus.

If we let them, both these Stories offer context and insight for our own life. These days there is much turmoil in the Church throughout the world – the abuse crises, the perception that church leaders are more concerned with their own prerogatives than the welfare of the people, the silencing or removal of persons who will not be told how to think or who deviate from the “party line” or who raise questions, the actions of leadership which to many appear to be abuses of authority, the questions of celibacy and women as priests, the large numbers of people leaving the church in varying ways, etc. Some, in their search for a welcoming and safe community, join other religious traditions. Some get involved actively in standing up for what they think is right and confronting what they think is wrong. Many just drop out, having learned that they can get along quite well without any involvement in the Catholic Church. These are not pleasant times. The problems cannot be pretended away. There might be a strong urge on the part of many to get out of the kitchen. It might be that some of us are making our own journey to our own Emmaus as we wonder what is going on and what we are to do about it.

The Emmaus Story suggests that Jesus comes to us in our journey through our everyday life. This is true, but we have to want it and work hard to prepare ourselves to be ready for him wherever and however he comes to us. We need a prayer practice that keeps us anchored, and which we are faithful to every day. There is no one practice that is good for everybody all the time. When we have a practice and are faithful to it, we have to be ready for the unexpected urge to move in a different direction, to do something differently, to be surprised. The Story reminds us that each of us is important enough to Jesus that we can expect to encounter him, that each of us has something important to contribute to life that only we can do, that Jesus is not “out there somewhere”, but right here with us, and he is real, often not what we expect.

As we encounter Jesus we find he does not tell us how others are to live, but how we are to live and what we are to do. Some might feel called to confront what they think is evil or wrong. Some might feel called to walk away or to look for religious support elsewhere in other traditions. Each of us has to make our own journey, and no one can do it for us. We can listen to others, but we have to make our own choices and go where they take us. These are weighty matters, and we need the wisdom and strength of grace to do whatever it is that we have to do. We cannot ask for the gift of grace while laying down conditions on how we will accept grace. Grace is not our agent, something we can use to get what we want.

The Story also reminds us that we need the Scriptures and the Eucharist in our lives. Each of these is an invitation and means of entering and deepening our relationship with Jesus, which has to be the basis of all we do. Both continually call us forward and deeper into Jesus. They are our light and our strength, the light to see what Jesus shows us, the strength to go where he calls us and do what he calls us to do. Rarely is this easy. To think differently from established norms is not pleasant or comfortable these days. Name-calling and finger- pointing seem to be the norm, along with threatening and punishing. Our focus has to be on Jesus, and we have to be willing to go where this takes us.

In the Story the disciples drew strength from their encounter with Jesus and returned to the uncertainty from which they had fled. What this means for us is something each of us has to answer for ourselves.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, Current Church, Gospel thoughts, Priest, thoughts.

Easter 2011 – 2 Gospel Thoughts 15 May 2011, Good Shepherd

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