3rd Sunday A of Easter (Lk 24:13-35)
Translated into English by Bauhinia
If you’ve ever felt sad, exhausted, lonely, disappointed, hopeless… at a certain moment of your life, today’s Gospel is especially offered for you.
If you would like to read it in detail, please click on this link and read from verse 13 to verse 35.
Let me offer a summary as follows: After Jesus Christ died on the cross and was buried, His disciples were in such a panic. Two of them decided to go back to their hometown in a very bad mood. On the way, they met a stranger who came to make friends and talked to them. This person helped them understand current catastrophic events in Jerusalem and warm up their heart. Finally, when they recognized him, this ‘stranger’ disappeared. Immediately, these two disciples rose at night to notify the others of their meeting Jesus.
Dear friends, this Gospel message is indeed rich. But in a limited period of time we have, I’d like to invite you to reflect on the two following aspects, each of which begins with a question “Why…?”
In the first aspect, the Risen Jesus in the role of a stranger asked a question that seems unnecessary: “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Lk 24: 17) It was ‘unnecessary’ because Jesus already knew clearly what had happened. Then why still asking? Well, our Risen Jesus knows not only what happens outside but also what takes place inside their hearts. Looking deeply into their hearts, seeing their anxiety, fear, confusion, stress, despair and other chaotic feelings, He asked them this question on purpose to create for them a good opportunity to confide in Him. He was so sensitive to their ‘psychological’ need of ‘getting off their chest’ the negative pressure inside. My friend, perhaps each of us have more or less have this experience: When we were sad, depressed, lonely, unsuccessful, …we would become much relieved if we had someone to share out story. It is very human, isn’t it?
Have you ever felt unable to find someone to confine in to get relieved? Usually, there is somebody ‘out there’ available to help us in such difficult situations. From my experience, you can come to those whom you have taken care of in their sorrows, whom you have journey with when they needed a shoulder to cry on. It’s those people that are more available to welcome your situation and accompany you in your down moments. This gives rise to a practical thing that we should do to prepare for our time in a blue mood: That is, trying our best to pay care to the others as much as possible so that when we are blue, there will be someone available to give us a shoulder to cry on. In all cases, it’s most important fact to keep in mind we always have the Wonderful Friend by our side who is willing to listen to us, have sympathy towards us and help us all the time though we may not have paid attention to That Friend. His name is Jesus, who asked the ‘unnecessary’ question above.
Now let us move to the second aspect: When the two disciples realized the ‘stranger’ was their beloved Teacher Jesus when He broke the bread for them, He “disappeared” (Lk 24:32). Why not remain with them but disappear?
“Disappearing” but not “lost”. “Absent ” yet always “present”. He is always there. This is evident. Nevetheless, this reality can only be seen by the experience of faith, not by the eye of flesh. Jesus disappears in order to bring their faith to a higher level. From now on, they are invited to encounter the Risen Christ in a more profound way, beyond the ordinary way of ‘seeing then believing’ (Jn 20:25). In fact, Jesus Christ makes it clear to disciple Thomas: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (Jn 20:27) because when he believes, he will see. “Seeing” here is no longer seeing at a low level (Jesus as a visible limited person), but at a new high level (Jesus as the Resurrected Lord). From now on, “their beloved Teacher” they met is the One who has the ability to cover and penetrate all dimensions of space and time. From now on, they can meet Him anywhere, anytime, in any feeling or any situation. From now on, they have more ways to meet their Teacher than before. From now on, nothing can stop him from being present everyone. From now on, they can see Him even when closing their eyes.
To temporarily conclude the reflection today, I would like to invite you to contemplate a specially important detail that helped the two disciples “immediately” recognize their Teacher. That is, his “breaking of bread” for them. My friend, we are actually talking about the presence of our Resurrected Jesus in the Sacrament of Eucharist which we are invited to participate everyday. He desires to nourish the life in us. He eager to strengthen us and lead us ahead when we face sorrow, hopelessness, failure, loneliness, disappointment,… Once we receive ‘the Jesus Bread’ (the body of Christ), we are invited to continue our breaking of bread in our daily life. “Breaking of bread” means ‘breaking of ourselves’ to feed the others. “Breaking of bread” means being willing to break open our hearts to make ourselves the spiritual food for others. Let us listen to these words of Jesus again:“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another as I have loved you… Do this in memory of me.“ (Jn 13:35, 15:12, Lk 22: 19, 1Cor 11:24-25)
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
In Vietnamese: https://only3minutes.wordpress.com/tieng-viet/tai-sao/