April 8th, 2021

The Gospel according to Luke (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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my mind to understand your word. Teach me and help me to follow you in all things, even your suffering.

Encountering Christ: When I became a father for the first time I felt a love I have not experienced before.  I knew and had experienced the love of my parents, siblings, family, and friends.  Then came the overwhelming and intense deep love in the Sacrament of marriage I am blessed to share with my wife Ana. These are all different types of the same love we share with our God and Creator.  I thought I had experienced all the facets of love I could as a human.  Then, I became a grandparent and that blew the roof off the house.

There was a time in my life when I was an observer, watching others enjoy these love gifts.  I even imagined what they would be like through books and movies.  But nothing compared to the actual experience I had in living each.  In other words, I did not understand what it was to be in love with my wife, children, and grandchildren until I personally lived each type of incredible love.

In today’s Gospel we read “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”  When I read this I immediately remembered something similar in Easter Sunday’s Gospel, “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”  Why, between the first encounter with the risen Christ and this appearance, did this not happen?  What was different?  Jesus could have made this possible at any time.  Perhaps we should not question God’s motives or especially his timing.

However, this is what we do in order to understand, we question, we wonder, we search.  So, please bear with me as I humbly suggest we consider that it has to do with how slow we are to recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives.  Didn’t we hear in yesterday’s Gospel that two of Jesus’ disciples did not recognize him on the road to Emmaus.  In John’s Gospel Mary did not recognize Jesus at the tomb.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we do not recognize him.

Like Jesus’ disciples, we need to experience many of the joys and sufferings life has to offer so that we too may have our hearts and minds open to understand him in Holy Scripture.  I for one do not read or understand Scripture the same as I did 40, 30, 5 years ago.  Our lives can even change, dramatically, from one moment to the next.  Do we trust that God’s timing is perfect even though, at times, we may not see it that way?  Who knows, maybe tomorrow you will receive a grace that you were not ready for today propelling you deeper into the loving arms of our Lord.

There is only one way to ensure that we are ready when God wants to open our minds and hearts to something we need.  Stay close, keep trying, don’t give up.  It is at times when we feel totally alone and defeated that God does his best work.  God neither wants or needs us to be perfect.  He just wants to love us and watch us grow in grace as we journey together as one body in Christ Jesus.

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord we are grateful for your patience as we navigate through the hills and valleys of our lives.  We are also grateful for the grace you so generously offer when you know we are ready to receive your gifts today and every day.

Action for the Day: Make an effort to read something good for your spirit you have been putting off.  Listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video, or a movie that opens your heart and mind to the riches of our faith.  God the generous giver of all that is good is waiting for us to recognize him in both expected and unexpected places.

Photo by Michael Block on Pexels.com

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