Daily Reflection
April 10th, 2005

Larry Gillick, S.J.

Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Third Sunday in Easter
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

We continue to gather together with the newly baptized around the Eucharistic table with Easter hope and joy. We pray for the grace to conduct ourselves with the reverence with which Jesus reverences us.

We pray also for the grace of hope. Our human nature desires to walk away, give up when we’re down. Jesus was raised from being dead to being the One who would raise us. We pray to see Him in the breaking of bread especially at the times of the breaking of our hearts and spirits.

We hear Peter, in the First Reading, state clearly that his listeners, the Jews, provoked the death of Jesus. He then uses a long quotation from Psalm 118 to support the belief of the resurrection of Jesus. Peter, as evidence, reads the words of David the patriarch who relied on the promises of God. David in the Psalm protests that the Lord, Who had promised that David’s lineage would ever continue, foresaw the resurrection of Jesus.

Peter then reflects that David’s tomb is in the presence of the Jews, but David boasted that he would live in the presence of God forever. The same spirit who guided David as leader of the Jews, now has been poured out in the presence of the Jewish people as they have heard and seen. Peter is using Scripture and logic to persuade his listeners. They had led Jesus to His death, the Spirit of Jesus, through the preaching of Peter and the Apostles is leading them to life.

The natural reaction to trauma is a fear that it could happen again or even something worse. The consequence is a tightening up and a tendency to return to the pre-trauma state. After the Second World War the defeated nations were disarmed and the United Nations was formed to attempt the monitoring of aggressive activities around the world. The tragedy of 9-11 has brought about greater security plans at airports and other places of vulnerability. The terrible loss of life resulting from the tsunami has increased the scientific monitoring of such natural activities. Bad things should not happen and if we but be careful we can prevent such horrific happenings.

In today’s Gospel we hear a post-traumatic story. Two former followers of Jesus have experienced the trauma of the crucifixion of Jesus and the loss of all that they had trusted and hoped for. They are taking the “Emmaus Shuttle” back to their “old” ways, the familiar. For them there would be no more trusting, hoping, just living with their broken hearts and dreams.

Jesus interrupts their retirement-walk. They resist His accompaniment by their asking Him where has he been lately. Jesus stays faithful to His post-trauma recovery mission. He continues walking and sharing with them.

They soon begin to feel something mysterious, but familiar so they invite Jesus in for a little something. The trauma’s effects are softening. They do not run a security check on Jesus, but instead desire to have their hearts restored. During the meal, Jesus took some bread, broke it, gave it to them and their eyes of faith recognized Him. The broken bread was healing their broken selves. The intimacy remained while Jesus vanished. The “un-followers” become the “re-followers” and they re-turn from Emmaus-isolation to Jerusalemic-community.

Last week we saw the eleven seated in an upper room, but not really together. The two Emmauseans were going back to their individual ways. Sorrows, losses, traumas of various sorts can move us backwards into our singular selves. The joy of the Resurrection of Jesus is Jesus rose above His to raise us up through ours. We desire to reach out and comfort those afflicted, but those who are sad often choose solitude for their solution. Jesus came and continues to come to walk with us even when we do not want any help, even from God. We pull into ourselves, bring up the drawbridges and set up security systems to live the prevent-defense of life.

Pope John Paul has written a recent document whose title is taken from today’s Gospel. The two, with whom Jesus was walking ask Jesus, “Remain with Us.” This request, these words of the title, are a heart-felt plea which Jesus answers. After the Last Supper, after the Sacrifice on Calvary, our plea, our request is answered. He remains with us in the “breaking of the Bread” through all the breakings of our personal dreams, plans, and reactions to traumas.

The call to us in the Eucharist is the call back to community and a return to a life where His presence is our security and not our isolating exclusions. When these two fellows came back to their group, they found that the Lord had appeared also to others in their own confusions. When we gather to break the Bread we are in the real presence of both the suffering and rising of Jesus in those with whom we stand, kneel, receive, and begin our missions of raising His sisters and brothers.

“Lord, you will show us the path of life.” Ps. 16

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