BREAKING OPEN THE WORD
The Ministry entrusted to me by virtue of Ordination, is to break open the Word. I am not a writer as such, I am a proclaimer of God’s Word. Therefore the style of my realhomilie is a preaching style. I do apologise if there are any typos…they are so had to find at times……. I hope that God’s Word finds a home in you.
Dear One and All,
This week our Gospel passage comes from the 1st Volume of the Lucan story of Jesus of Nazareth; the Christ of Faith. In his second Volume, the Lucan community as seen in the Acts of the Apostles, we see the living body of Christ within the early Christian community. In today’s passage, there are some similarities which we looked at last week, in a post Resurrection experience in St. John’s Gospel; this week’s account is from St. Luke. Let’s start exploring, and being extremely curious about the unfolding of this story, with its messages to the early Christian community and beyond, and their faith response in the Risen Lord as actualised through conversation, the Breaking of Bread, Prayer, and living works of love and Mission.
As we dig deep into the Gospel, let’s make a deliberate effort to reflectively read it, not just to gain information, but to prayerfully gaze on it, so that it may trigger an evocative ‘faith response’ in us! As a rule of thumb, in the reflective reading of the Biblical texts, it would do us well to keep this question in mind: ‘Lord, what are you saying to me, through your all powerful Word?’ So that means we need to pause periodically, as we walk through the Holy Reading…..or as it is internationally known: – Lectio Divina. At the end of this little Homily I have listed some good websites where you might wish to explore the wonders of Lectio Divina.
In our own lives, we love to tell stories and listen to them (providing that they don’t go on and on); story telling has been part and parcel of community and family building since the beginning of time. When something unusual happens to us, we like to share it, and through the telling of the story, we not only can understand the feelings and surprises from the one who is telling it, but it can also have a ‘knock on’ effect in us….’what would I do or how would I react if I were in a similar situation?’ Well, in the opening section of today’s Gospel there is a fine example of what we are talking about.
From the opening lines of this passage, we can see that the Apostles were excited at the prospect of telling this story to their friends….they would have been literally jumping out of their skin to share the experience. Let’s not forget that some of their hearers had already been to the Empty Tomb before dawn, on the first day of the week, and they returned to the gathering in wonderment, questionings, and bewilderment, proclaiming that the Lord had risen from the dead. Here in this scenario, the Emmaus Apostles are literally ‘over the moon’ from their personal and group experience of the Risen Lord…..and while they are still bubbling with excitement, Jesus comes and stands within their conversation! The Lord’s first Gift of Easter is offered to the group who are petrified, frightened, and puzzled. Within their confused state of being, Jesus asks ‘why are you like this?’ Just as in the times when we are confused and bewildered, the Lord, puts the same question to us?
The state of agitation and misunderstanding about God’s closeness to the fledgling community, was to a certain degree similar to what Our Lady experienced at the Annunciation. It was a bit like the experience of the Apostles in the boat on the stormy night, when Jesus came to them on the water. All these experiences caused an immediate awareness of lowliness, humility and contrition within those who were disturbed by this experience.
Now, from this moment of fear, fright and alarm, Jesus invites them to recognise Him through His wounds! Remember in last week’s Gospel, the Risen Lord invited Thomas to enter into the cavity wound of His side, and to touch the wounds in his feet and hands? The same is happening here in this passage! In other words we can find the Risen Lord within the woundedness of His people the Church, the living body of Christ. Can this only happen within the Church???? No! If we were to think that it was the only way, we would be very selective and suffer from a ghetto mentality and be introverted and unchristian. Our Lord says, ‘Go to all nations and bring the Good News to their attention!’ This Gospel passage has still more in it……which consolidates their faith-insight; the Risen Lord asks for food! Do you think that he was hungry, wanting a snack? No way! The language in this part of the passage has strong Eucharistic overtones…..Jesus, ‘took and ate before their eyes’……Remember the Miracle of the Loaves and Fish? What did Jesus do? He took the bread and gave thanks, and handed it to his disciples who gave it to the crowd. From this point in the passage, the early Church is being didactic to its hearers and readers; it is at the Breaking open of the Word, the Bread and People, do we then share in the experience of the Risen Lord. The Eucharist is not a greater presence of Christ than His Word, the Eucharist is not a greater presence than within the woundedness of His people. The Eucharist is an invitation and thanksgiving, to be nourished by the Bread of The Word, to be fortified and strengthened with the Bread of Life, and to see the living Christ within His people, especially in the Lord’s ‘poor’.
The last paragraph of today’s Gospel is a catechetical instruction to the early Christian Community and to us, which The Promised One as seen throughout Biblical history is in fact Jesus Crucified and Risen! However, there is another issue within this passage that can never be overlooked…..that is the responsibility that we, who are the living followers of Jesus The Way, must carry on the Mission entrusted to His Son and us, by His Father……
FROM WORD TO THANKSGIVING…..
We give thanks to God our Father, for when we break bread we recognise our risen Lord, and we receive from Him, with the forgiveness of our sins, the peace which He alone can give.
(Respectively copied from the Glenstal Bible Missal, Third Sunday of Easter Year B, Page 767.)
By Douglas J. Leonhardt, SJ. Lectio Divina and Gospel Contemplation are two ways to pray with Scripture. Fr. Leonhardt explains these two forms of prayer for …
Lectio divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures. Time set aside in a special way for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life the evergreen Word of God which always invites a response in faith from us.
By Luke Dysinger of St. Andrew’s Abbey, an introduction to the practice of personal or group lectio divina.
Are you looking towards making a Retreat, not too far from Sydney, in an environment which is peaceful and spectacularly beautiful? Then do yourself a favour, and check out this Website of the Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, New South Wales, Australia. It is the family of the Benedictine Nuns, and their Ministry is prayer, hospitality, and inviting all people to LISTEN and SHARE in God’s Word. www.jamberooabbey.org.au
I can vouch for this place as being ‘holy ground’, I have made many Retreats there, and I am associated with the Abbey as an Oblate of St.Benedict.
Fr Kevin Bede Walsh