Wednesday - Easter Time
1) Opening prayer
you are a God not of the dead
nor of those paralyzed by their fears and limitations
but the God of the living.
Raise us up and make us walk forward
in joy and hope
as companions on the road
of him whom you raised from the dead,
Jesus Christ, our risen Lord for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 24, 13-35
That very same day, two of them
were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and
they were talking together about all that had happened.
And it happened that as they were
talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their
side; but their eyes were prevented from recognising him. He said to them,
'What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along?' They
stopped, their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him,
'You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things
that have been happening there these last few days.' He asked, 'What things?'
They answered, 'All about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed himself a prophet
powerful in action and speech before God and the whole people; and how our
chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had
him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel
free. And this is not all: two whole days have now gone by since it all
happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the
tomb in the early morning, and when they could not find the body, they came
back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive.
Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women
had reported, but of him they saw nothing.'
Then he said to them, 'You foolish
men! So slow to believe all that the prophets have said! Was it not necessary
that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?' Then, starting
with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the
passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village
to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay
with them saying, 'It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over.' So he
went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the
bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their
eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked
to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?'
They set out that instant and
returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with
their companions, who said to them, 'The Lord has indeed risen and has appeared
to Simon.' Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how
they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
Today’s Gospel speaks to us of a very well know episode, that of the apparition
of Jesus to the Disciples of Emmaus. Luke writes in the year 80 for the
communities of Greece which in their great majority were formed by converted
pagans. The years 60’s and 70’s had been the most difficult ones. There had
been the great persecution of Nero in the year 64. Six years later, in the year
70, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. In the year 72, in
Masada, in the desert of Judah, there was the massacre of the last rebellious
Jews. In those years, the Apostles, witnesses of the Resurrection, disappeared
gradually. People began to feel tired on the journey. From where could they
draw the courage so as not to get discouraged? How to discover the presence of
Jesus in such a difficult situation? The story of the apparition of Jesus to
the Disciples of Emmaus tries to give a response to all these anguishing
questions. Luke wants to teach the communities how to interpret Scripture in
order to be able to rediscover the presence of Jesus in life.
Luke 24, 13-24: 1st Step: to get away from reality. Jesus
meets the two friends in a situation of fear and of lack of faith. The force of
death, the cross, had killed in them their hope. This was the situation of many
people at the time of Luke, and is also the situation of many persons today. Jesus
gets close to them and walks by their side; he listens to their conversation
and asks: “What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk
along?” The dominating ideology, that is, the propaganda of the government and
of the official religion of the time, prevent them from seeing. “Our hope had
been that he would be the one to set Israel free”. Which is today the
conversation of people who suffer? The first step is this one: get close
to the persons, listen to their reality, feel their problems: be capable to ask
questions which will help the persons to look at reality with a more critical
Luke 24, 25-27: 2nd step: use the Bible to enlighten life. Jesus
uses the Bible and the history of people to enlighten the problem which made
the two friends suffer, and to clarify the situation which they are living. He
also uses it to place them in the whole project of God which came from Moses
and the prophets. Thus, he indicates that history had not escaped from God’s
hand. Jesus uses the Bible not as a doctor who knows everything, but rather
like a companion who comes to help the friends and to remind them what they had
forgotten. Jesus does not set off to the disciples the complex of ignorance,
but tries to awaken their memory: “Foolish and slow to believe all that the
prophets have said! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before
entering into his glory?”
This is the second step: With the Bible help persons to discover the
wisdom which already exists in them, and transform the cross, a sign of death,
into a sign of life and of hope. What prevented them from walking, now becomes
for them force and light on the journey. How can we do this today?
24, 28-32: 3rd step: to share in community. The Bible, in
itself, does not open the eyes. It only makes their heart burn, what opens the
eyes and makes them see, is the breaking of the bread, the community gesture of
sharing, and the celebration of the Supper. In the moment in which both
recognize Jesus, they are born anew and Jesus disappears. Jesus does not take
possession of the road of his friends. He is not paternalistic. Risen, the
disciples are capable to walk alone.
The third step is the following: to know how to create a fraternal
environment of faith, of celebration and of sharing, where the Holy Spirit can
act. It is he who makes us discover and experience the Word of God in life and
which leads us to understand the sense of the words of Jesus (Jn 14, 26; 16,
Luke 24, 33-35: 4th step: The result: To resurrect means to go
back to Jerusalem. The two of them, courageously, get back on the road to
go to Jerusalem, where the same forces of death, which had killed Jesus and,
had killed their hope, continue to be active. But, now everything has changed. If
Jesus is alive, then there is in him and with him a stronger power than that
which killed him. This experience makes them resurrect! Truly, everything has
changed. There is the return and not the flight! Faith and not unbelief! Hope
and not despair! Critical conscience and not fatalism in the face of power! Liberty
and not oppression! In one word: life and not death! Instead of the bad news of
the death of Jesus, the Good News of his Resurrection! Both of them experience life
and life in abundance! (Jn 10, 10). This is a sign that the Spirit of Jesus
acts in them!
4) Personal questions
Both of them say: “We were hoping, but…!” Have you ever seen a situation of
discouragement which has led you to say: “I was hoping, but…!”?
How do you read, use and interpret the Bible? Have you ever felt your heart
burning when reading and meditating on the Word of Gold? Do you read the Bible
alone or are you part of a Bible group?
5) Concluding Prayer
Give thanks to Yahweh, call on his
proclaim his deeds to the peoples!
Sing to him, make music for him,
recount all his wonders! (Ps 105,1-2)