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(Part 5)


April 11, 2012
Today’s gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. By this Jesus overturned the culture of death and ushered in the culture of life. God now wants us to live to the full the way of life that He intended from the very beginning. But there are many things that prevent us from living the culture of life according to God’s intent.

First, like the two on the road to Emmaus, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Lk 24:15b-16). Jesus continues to try to break into the lives of people, but we are too busy “conversing and debating” (Lk 24:15a). We talk about Jesus, we have theological discussions about Jesus, but we do not spend our time developing a personal relationship with Jesus. We talk when we rather need to listen. We look to our mind when we need to look to our heart. We see with our eyes rather than see with our soul.

Second, we live our lives “looking downcast.” (Lk 24:17b). We allow the trials, pain and suffering in the world to bring us down. At times we even blame God. At times we simply turn away, giving up on our faith. At times we allow the burden to keep us down, thus living lives bereft of power and victory. We look down rather than looking up, and are prevented from seeing that our God still reigns in heaven above. We are downcast rather than persistent in the joy that comes from living a life for and in Jesus.

Third, we try to conform Jesus to our own agenda. The two “were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21a). They were looking for a political king and put their hope in Jesus, but when he was arrested, was crucified and died on the cross as a common criminal, all their hopes were dashed. Many people today call upon Jesus only when they are in great need, and just as easily forget him when their need has been satisfied. Many pray just asking for things, rather than focus on praising and thanking God and interceding for the needs of other people. Many look to Jesus as their liberator from material and emotional want. Such posture, like the two, is ironic. Jesus indeed is the one who has redeemed Israel. He has redeemed us. He is the fulfillment of all our hopes.

Now Jesus has done something more. He continues to give us himself in the Eucharist.

At Mass we have the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. This is what Jesus celebrated with the disciples at Emmaus. First, along the road, Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” (Lk 24:27b). Then, in the village home, “while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” (Lk 24:30).

We are to be that bread that Jesus the Bread of Life uses to feed his people. He takes us, as we repent of our sins and turn to a life of faith in him. He blesses us, not just with new life but all the good things that a loving Father has already reserved for His beloved children. He breaks us, allowing us to fail and to fall, to be oppressed, to experience the dark night of the soul, to suffer and experience pain, so that we would be humbled, emptied and purified. He gives us away, as we serve others, practice self-sacrificial love, and become his instruments for proclaiming the good news of salvation to many others.

Now comes the amazing thing. “With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:31a)! Jesus was “made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Lk 24:35b). In the Eucharist we encounter Jesus. In the Eucharist we live the paschal mystery over and over again. This is at the core of our Christian faith. It is the means given us by which we are to see, know and recognize Jesus.

With the Eucharist our lives are put into proper perspective. We are a Eucharistic people. We embrace the cross of Jesus and we share in his victory over death and sin. Suffering for the cause of the Kingdom is salvific. We realize what the culture of life truly is.

Jesus died for us. Now Jesus draws near to us, walks with us, and converses with us. What more do we need? Why do we respond so tepidly, so selfishly, so haltingly, so tentatively? Hear Jesus say, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” (Lk 24:25).

Let us give our hearts and our lives totally to Jesus. Let us always invite Jesus into our homes, saying “Stay with us” (Lk 24:29a). Let us study his word in the Bible, and say to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32). Let us receive Jesus regularly in the Eucharist. Let us allow Jesus to take us, bless us, break us, and give us away.

And let us continue to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. To one and all let us say, “The Lord has truly been raised” (Lk 24:34a). Now let us “set out at once” (Lk 24:33a)!

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