Easter 3 B - Emmaus Journey


-Your mercy, Lord, impels us to walk with every person on the journey of the Lord
-Your mercy, Christ, reveals your face in the breaking of the bread and sharing of our lives
-Your mercy, Lord, encourages us to face the trials and tragedies of life with courage and perseverance
Lord let us see your face, let us know you and hear your voice. Take us to the table where bread is broken. How are we to know that you are the God of life if you do not take lives in hand?
Stay with us Lord Jesus on the road we are following. Warm our hearts to receive your words; open our eyes to discover that life is stronger than death, for you transfigure all things today and forever.
 
The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is one of the best-loved in the Biblical tradition. It speaks to us of the manner in which we come to see the risen Jesus. When we look through the lenses of the Biblical revelation and the Eucharistic mystery, Jesus comes into clear focus. This, of course, is the structure of the Mass, with its liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist.
The late great John Paul II understood this dynamic in his bones--which is why he travelled so widely to speak the word and make present the Eucharist. 

It begins with two people on a journey.  Life, as depicted in the Scriptures, is a journey.  We are called a 'pilgrim people'.  Jesus calls himself the Way (Greek, hodos).  The word 'hodos' appears in many contexts in the New Testament, and seldom in a purely literal sense.  The early Christians, too, are called in the Acts "followers of the Way". 

Journey to nowhere

The problem is that many of us are quite lost.  Many are going the wrong way.  Others are going round in circles.  In this story it was becoming a journey to nowhere.  They were not going to any place in particular.  They were in flight from anticipated danger and difficulties.  For Luke, Jerusalem was the place where it was all happening; it was the focal point of God's saving work.  Yet these two men were distancing themselves from the city as quickly as they could.  They were lost and they were confused.

They had been present during the momentous events of Holy Week.  As disciples of Jesus they were deeply concerned over what had happened.  They could talk of nothing else.  But they were also disillusioned.  The death of their Master was the end of everything.  It was better to get out while the going was good.  Like many others after them, they felt that the life and death of Jesus made no sense. 

An unexpected encounter

It is precisely at this point that God in Jesus re-enters their life, unexpected and unrecognised.  Just as so often we fail utterly to recognise him.  He may come in the form of a friend, a colleague, or a complete stranger.  It may be someone we love, admire, fear, hate, despise, or want to ignore.  He may come, not as a person, but in the form of a happening or even an inanimate object.  Through these he has something to say to us.  But our prejudices and a priori expectations can totally blind us to his presence, his coming into our life at this point.

We need, however, to realise that we are never alone in our life's journey.  He is with us all the time.  "I am with you always."  But, as happened with these two disciples, we at times feel he has abandoned us, he has let us down, he no longer cares.

Meeting Jesus where we are

As the stranger walks along with them he enters their lives where they are, namely, in their distress about what happened to Jesus.  "What matters are you talking about as you walk along?"  That is the point where we too should go to meet Jesus.  So often, we find people who think that when they pray they should leave all their problems, their weaknesses and failings, their disappointments and angers outside.  Prayer is a time to meditate on some uplifting Gospel passage and to pray for virtue.  They are surprised, then, when they are continually bombarded with distractions about things that are really bothering them.  Surely it is right there in those problems that Jesus is to be met, that it is right there our prayer should be focused?  Jesus always wants to meet us where we are, not where we would like to be or where we think we ought to be. 

Dashed hopes

Jesus' question surprises the two disciples but he has their full attention.  "Are you the only person in Jerusalem who does not know what happened during these past few days?"  Jesus' execution was clearly the talk of the town.  Jesus' answer is delightful.  "What things?" the one who was at the centre of it all asks disingenuously.  But it gives the disciples a chance to present their version of the story - and their lack of understanding.  "We were hoping," they say in words laden with disillusionment but full of irony, "that he would be the one to set Israel free."  Their hopes were well grounded but their concept of how Israel would be liberated was not.  They had heard rumours of a "resurrection" but of Him they saw nothing.  All this they tell to Jesus himself!  How often, I wonder, has the same thing happened to us?
All there in the Scriptures

They are then given a lesson in Scripture.  Jesus shows them how all the happenings which to them indicated the total failure of Jesus' work were, on the contrary, stepping stones to triumph and glory.  "Was it not ordained that the Christ [Messiah, King] should suffer and so enter into his glory?"
Meeting Jesus in the Word

It is in Scripture that we also meet God and Jesus.  Scripture is the Word of God and through it he communicates himself to us.  It is sad to come across so many otherwise devout Catholics who never read the Scriptures, who do not even own a Bible or even a New Testament.  Not to know the Scriptures, says St Jerome, is not to know Jesus himself.  Others do read the Scriptures in one way or another but they have no one to explain its deeper meanings.  We all need help to understand the cultural background and the many symbolisms that pervade the Old and New Testaments.  But once the treasures of the Scriptures are opened to us, we will find it is an inexhaustible treasure house which never ceases to give new insights.  Like the disciples, our hearts will be on fire as Jesus talks to us on the Way and explains the Scriptures to us.

The word in the Eucharist

In fact, this part of the story corresponds to the Liturgy of the Word in the Eucharist.  It is a most important part of the Mass, often just gone through because it is there.  But it is only in breaking open the Word of God and finding its meaning in our present lives that the rest of the Eucharist will be properly understood.  The Word of God is also the Bread of Life whose nourishment we need.

The day is far spent

As they reach their destination, Jesus indicates he will continue on his own.  He really would have done so, if they had not invited him to stay with them.  Jesus never forces himself on us.  But without him, a real darkness, much more than the darkness of evening would have come down on these two men.  This contrast between darkness and light when speaking of Jesus is a favourite theme of Luke, John and Paul.

Eyes opened

And as they sit at table, the stranger becomes the host and Master.  He takes the bread, breaks it and distributes it to them.  For the early Church, this pointed clearly to their own Eucharistic celebrations.  The disciples are now meeting the third mode of Jesus' presence among us - in the Eucharist, in the sharing together of the blessed and broken bread.  And so their eyes are opened.  They now really see the stranger for who He is - the Jesus they had been talking about all the time.  At that moment, he vanishes.  Is this to say his miraculous appearance is now no longer necessary once his presence is recognised in the sharing of the Eucharistic bread?

Sharing the Good News

And, after all these experiences, what do Cleopas and his companion do?  They go straight back to the Jerusalem from which they were fleeing.  They simply must share their experience of the Risen Jesus with their fellow-disciples, who, in fact, have also seen Him.  They go back to the city which saw the climax of Jesus' work and which will be the starting point of the continuation of that work through the Church.  There may still be dangers and difficulties but, now that they can see, now that they know that their Jesus is Lord and is with them, they want to be part of it all, part of the work of building God's Kingdom.

Summary

To sum up then what this story seems to be telling us:
a. Life is a journey and Jesus is the Way we are called to follow.
b. Jesus is with us at all times and in all situations.  We need to be ready to recognise him entering our lives so that we can respond appropriately to Him.
c. Jesus speaks to us and is truly present in the Scriptures.  They must be an integral part of every disciple's life.  We pray that they may set our hearts on fire.
d. Jesus is specially present among us in all our sacramental celebrations but especially in the Eucharist, in the "breaking of bread".  Our sharing of this Bread is a symbol of our unity as brothers and sisters in Jesus.  It is also a symbol of our participation in the work and mission of Jesus, whose body was broken in the love and service of others.
e. Our experience of loving and being loved by Jesus makes us want to share that experience with others so that they may see what we see and walk the Way of Jesus, which is the Way of Truth and Life.


A model of the Eucharist

This story can also be seen as symbolic of the Eucharist. All the elements of a good Eucharist are there:
  • There is the encounter between the Lord in the guise of an ordinary person, any person, even a total stranger.  The very gathering of the Eucharistic community is an encounter with the Lord.  The community is already the Body of Christ.
  • There is the Introductory Rite where the two disciples express their disillusionment and sense of hopelessness and helplessness as they walk the road to Nowhere.
  • There is the Liturgy of the Word as Jesus breaks open the Scriptures, explains its full meaning with regard to himself and leaves their hearts on fire with evangelising enthusiasm.
  • There is also the remembering of the sacrificial death of Jesus which is at the heart of every Eucharist.
  • There is the breaking of the one loaf of bread by which the community recognises the living presence of the Lord in each one and the unity that binds them together as the Body of Christ.
  • Finally, there is the desired conclusion of every Eucharist - the urge to go out and share the experience of knowing and loving Jesus as Lord and inviting others to share that experience.
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Michel DeVerteuil 
General Comments
On this Sunday we are still meditating on the resurrection of Jesus. As always, the secret of good meditation on this feast is to remember our own experiences of death and resurrection.
– Verse 35 is the conclusion of a previous incident. The two disciples had met Jesus when they were on the roadto Emmaus. They had had a long and fruitful meeting with him but only came to recognise him at the breaking of the bread – a clear reference to the Holy Eucharist celebrated by the communities of Christians.
– Verses 36 to 43: Jesus interrupts the conversation of the disciples  by appearing to them. He greets them with his customary words , “Peace be with you”, telling them that they can be at peace with themselves, with one another and with God. They were in a state of “alarm and fright” but he spoke to them with patience and compassion.
–  Verses 44 and 45 tell the story of how the disciples grew gradually into Jesus’ message of wisdom. He had been telling them things all along. It was only when he had died, however, and had risen that their minds were finally opened so that they could see for themselves that everything written about him was true. The Law of  Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms had all been truly fulfilled in him and his destiny, arranged by God for him and for the rest of the people.
–  Verses 46 to 48 give us the content of the lesson they have learned. He had “opened their minds to  understand the Scriptures”. Now he tells them how they are to go out and preach it.
– The first reality they must announce is the fact that the Christ would suffer and then on the third day rise from the dead. This is the  central act of Jesus our Saviour. Everything else about him is summed up in that one fact of history. All his long and many works beforehand now take their reality from this. They have their reason and their fulfilment in this alone. We can see the implications of this from his many miracles and teachings.
– His message is clear. It is one of repentance for the forgiveness of all sins. We must learn that, like him, we too must first die to what we consider closest to us and then to rise again with a new life that we can share with all.
– This message is to be preached not merely to Jews and the people of Jerusalem but to all the nations of the world.
– They are the witnesses to the wider world of this new fact of history – Jesus risen from the dead tells us how we too will be able to experience the presence of God. We will see him not merely in himself but also in all his works and promises.

Prayer Reflection
Lord, we remember with gratitude our resurrection experiences:
– one of our children was at death’s door but got well and healthy again;
– failure left us down-hearted, our self-confidence destroyed;
gradually we got back our enthusiasm
and felt able to take on new challenges;
– we hurt someone dear to us and thought we could never be friends again,
but we were forgiven and it was as if nothing had ever come between us;
– we spent years in bondage to drink or drugs;
we thought we could never get out of it;
then someone restored us to healthy living.
We remember now the wonderful moment when we knew
that life had come back.
We thought at first we were seeing a ghost,
we were agitated and felt doubts rising in our hearts.
Hesitantly we were able to touch and see for ourselves.
Our joy was so great we still could not believe
and stood there dumbfounded.
Then we learnt that everything told us in the Law of Moses,
the Psalms and the Prophets was to be fulfilled in him.
storiesoffaith
Lord, we pray today for all who have been involved in the work of the military in different parts of the  world:
– in Iraq as local and foreign workers for peace and reconciliation
– in Israel and Palestine as searchers for a new life for all inhabitants
– in the Basque Country bringing about a new society in which all would be welcome
– in Northern Ireland, working for a better society for all.
We pray that all may see you and recognise in their suffering the frustration of death
so that they like you will be the only ones who can bring peace to their countries and to the wider world.
Lord, as teachers we sometimes meet children who have been deeply hurt.
We get impatient with them, want them to trust us right away.
Help us to be like Jesus and walk step by step with them,
inviting them to touch and see for themselves,
assuring them that a ghost has no flesh and bones as they can see we have,
showing them our own wounds,
and taking their food to eat before their eyes.
Lord, it takes us a long time to learn the deep lessons of life:
– that at one time or another we have to give ourselves completely;
– that we are responsible for our own destiny;
– that love grows to maturity out of manyreconciliations;
– that there can never be lasting peace without justice.
Our parents told us, while they were still with us, but we resisted them.
We thank you that after a great crisis their words came back to us,
as real as if they were standing before us, and our minds were opened.
We saw that every page of the bible was teaching us this all the time,
every psalm, every sacred book said it,
but only now could we tell it to the nations
because it was written not merely in books, but in our hearts,
and we were witnesses to it.
leap-of-faithLord, we pray for those who dream of a better society
and who are discouraged by their failures or the failures of good people.
Send them some Jesus person to stand among them and say, “Peace be with you!”
and show them his own wounded hands and feet,
showing them from his own experience that everything in the Law of Moses,
the Prophets and the Psalms, has to be fulfilled
so that their minds can be opened and they can see
how it is written into the laws of life that all great projects must die
and only on the third day rise from the dead.
Lord, as parents, leaders, guides
we think we can hand down prescriptions to others
with no reference to their own experience.
As a result, we call others to repent but do not communicate forgiveness,
or we offer a false forgiveness without repentance.
But we are witnesses that those who preach to the nations
must always start from Jerusalem,
the place where they abandoned their Lord
and experienced that he rose from the dead
and returned to stand among them.
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 Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
We have gathered to celebrate the presence of the risen Lord among us. We are called to be the people who bear witness to his victory over death. We are the people who proclaim the Father’s forgiveness to the ends of the earth by being people who are forgiving.

Homily notes

Jerusalem centre1. Luke, both in his gospel and in Acts, has a picture of the world as made up of concentric rings. At the centre is Jerusalem (the holy city where the Lord has chosen to dwell), then the surrounding countryside and region (the land of the chosen people), and finally the lands beyond this again (the lands of the nations). He sees the witness that Christians must bear to the victory of Jesus over death, and so the forgiveness of humanity, as spreading out through these rings starting from the centre. It is like the ripple effects in a pond.
2. Our attempts to build a world of peace and goodness tend to fail as we give up on plans as useless: ‘What’s the use? It’ll core of lifebe all the same no matter what we do!’ This forgets the incarnational dynamic of action: we may think global, but we act local. The Lord came to save humanity as one human in one place at one time. His impact ripples outwards in time and space – from one man in Palestine it has now touched each of us. The place to seek for peace is at the centre of our own lives, then in our immediate personal world, then in the world that touches our lives, and then beyond. We make our impact where we can and then let the ripples spread outwards. Do not despair at the dark clouds and the seeming impossibility of peace and justice, but act with justice in a single case in one’s own life and avoid surrendering to the darkness.
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Sean Goan

Only in Luke do we find this resurrection story that is built around the theme of a journey. This is a theme dear to the evangelist as he portrayed Jesus journeying to Jerusalem through the second half of his gospel. Now we are shown disciples coming away from Jerusalem full of disappointment and lacking in understanding. On their journey they are brought to see things differently by a Jesus they only finally recognise at the breaking of what the Emmaus journey is all about. Every Christian must come to a resurrection faith, one that accompanies Jesus through from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We are invited to understand through our prayerful reading of the scriptures and the events that occur ‘on the road’ of our lives that the risen Lord still walks with us and meets us, especially when we gather to break bread, that is share in the Eucharist.

Reflection
The first and second readings point to the danger of thinking that just because we belong to what we consider to be the ‘true’ religion we do not have to concern ourselves with how we live out that faith. Peter is speaking to his fellow-Jews beside the temple in Jerusalem, reminding them of the need for repentance while John is writing to some smug Christians who feel that simply knowing Jesus is jesus today
enough. The fact is that there must be a connection between what we believe and the way we live. Our faith must show itself in love. The Emmaus story is a reminder that unfortunately, the story of Easter may remain just a retelling of some event from the distant past if we do not allow Jesus to show us how his resurrection is a source of life for us today. Its power is to be experienced in the ordinary events of life as we struggle to be faithful. However, it is often only with hindsight that we can see the ways the Lord has accompanied us on the road.
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From the CONNECTIONS:
 
THE WORD:
Today’s Gospel is the conclusion of Luke’s account of Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance to his disciples.  The two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus have returned to Jerusalem to confirm the women’s story of the resurrection.  While they are excitingly telling their story, Jesus appears.
Luke goes to great lengths in his Easter accounts to make clear that the resurrection was not the fantasy of crazy zealots nor is the resurrection story a plot concocted by the disciples who somehow managed to spirit the body of Jesus away (according to Luke’s account, the disciples themselves had not gone near the tomb themselves or even expected any kind of “resurrection”).  In the details he presents here, Luke is countering the arguments forwarded to explain away the resurrection myth.  There can be no mistake:  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality, a reality in which all of the Scriptures find their ultimate fulfillment.
For Luke, the power of Jesus’ resurrection is realized in the way it “opens” one’s heart and mind to understanding the deeper meaning of God’s Word and to fully embracing the Spirit of God.  In our faith and trust in the Risen Christ, we become “witnesses” of the mercy and forgiveness of God.
 
HOMILY POINTS:
In the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, God reveals in a specific moment of history, in a specific location on earth, the limitless and eternal love the Father has for his people.  God continues to make the miracle of the empty tomb present to us in the caring, compassion and love we receive and give -- the love we have witnessed in the suffering of Christ, a love that is victorious even over death.
In today’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus challenges his disciples -- and us -- to recall what he taught and what they had witnessed.  The Easter miracle is God’s assurance that love and forgiveness, even in the most difficult situations, are never offered in vain; in learning to cope without losing hope, in learning from the painful realities of life and in accepting the lessons learned in God’s Spirit of humility and patience, we become capable of growth, re-creation, transformation -- and resurrection.
Just as the Risen Christ asks the Eleven for “something to eat,” he asks the same of us today in the cries and pleas of the poor and needy among us.  In imitating his humble compassion we, in turn, discover meaning and purpose that “feed” our own hunger for meaning, for fulfillment, for God in our lives.
Easter faith opens our eyes and hearts to realize God’ hand in every moment of time, transforms our attitudes to realize the need for God’s compassion and forgiveness in every human encounter, lifts up our spirits to hope even in the face of life’s most painful and traumatic moments.

Hungers
‘Have you anything here to eat’?
You stop what you’re doing to hear the same words that Jesus asks his shocked disciples in today’s Gospel.  Well, maybe not the same words, but the same request.  Actually, the words are more like, “Mom, I’m hungry.  We got anything to eat?”  It’s your seven-year-old with a couple of his buds, after a busy afternoon of playing ball, hiking through the swamp and tearing up the neighborhood.
But you hear the words with the same love and care and joy as if it was Christ himself asking.
Because it is Christ.
‘Could you spare a couple of bucks for a meal, friend?’
You turn around to be greeted by an outstretched hand.  The question almost makes you laugh -- who has “spare” money?  But you fumble through your pockets and pull out the dimes and quarters you can reach and humbly place them in the dirty, bleeding hand, as if the hand was Christ’s.
Because it is Christ’s.
Sometimes the pangs of hunger and the parched throat are your own.  But it’s not the kind of hunger that can be satisfied with a Big Mac or the kind of thirst that can be quenched with a Coke.  These are the hungers we all experience at some point in our lives for a sense of belonging, for the reassurance that our lives matter and mean something, that there is a point to our existence besides just existing.  Often it is we who are hungry; sometimes it is those around us thirsting for forgiveness, for affirmation, for compassion.  The only food that will satisfy this hunger of the spirit is Christ, Christ who gives himself as bread for life, as wine for spirit, as the lamb for our redemption.

Just as the Risen Jesus asks the Eleven for “something to eat,” he seeks the same of us today in the cries and pleas of the poor and needy in our midst.  In imitating his humility and compassion, we, in turn, discover meaning and purpose in our own lives that “feed” our own hunger for fulfillment, for purpose, for God.  To become witnesses of Christ’s resurrection is to embrace his peace in our own lives and work joyfully to bring that peace into the lives of others, both for them and for ourselves.
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Fr. Jude Botelho:

In today’s first reading Peter highlights how God maintains his covenant with mankind continually despite their sins and ignorance. We may foul up things and regret the blunders we have caused either willfully or through ignorance but God’s plan continues in spite of it all. He continues to write straight through the crooked lines of our history. Peter makes the point that our God is one and the same, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors and our God as well. Peter is quick to confront the sinfulness of the leaders and the people of Israel. When we look at our sins and their effect on the world around us we could easily give way to despair and despondency. Our response should not be one of passive resignation and disowning of responsibility but rather one of repentance and reconciliation.

Eternal Harmony

Centuries ago, it was known far and wide that a certain tribal leader was the greatest in all the tribes. In order to help his people he carefully put laws into place so that he had a reputation for uncompromising justice. But in spite of the laws there were problems; someone in the tribe was stealing. He called the people and reasoned with them. “This stealing must stop. A penalty has been imposed of twenty lashes from the whip for the person caught stealing.” But the thief continued stealing, so the leader called the people again. “Please hear me, he pleaded. This must stop. The penalty has been increased to thirty lashes.” Still the stealing continued and again the leader called them, pleaded with them and increased the penalty to forty lashes. Finally a man came to say that the thief was caught and as word spread everyone gathered to see who it was. A single gasp emerged through the crowd as the thief emerged between the two guards. The tribal leader’s face fell in shock and grief for the thief was his very own mother, old and frail. “What will he do?” the people murmured. Would he uphold the law or would his love for his mother win over it? The people waited eagerly to watch the outcome. Finally the leader spoke. “My beloved people,” His voice broke. “It is for our safety and our peace. There must be forty lashes; the pain this crime has caused is too great.” With his nod the guards led his mother forward. One gently removed her robe to expose her bony and crooked back. The appointed man stepped forward and began to unwind the whip. At the same moment the leader stepped forward and removed his robe as well, exposing his broad shoulders, seasoned and solid. Tenderly he wrapped his arms around his dear mother, shielding her with his own body. He whispered gently against her cheek as his tears blended with hers. He nodded once more, and the whip came down again and again. A single moment, yet in it love and justice found an eternal harmony.

John MacArthur as told in ‘Grace to You’

The Gospel scene is once again the hideout of the disciples and there is pandemonium and confusion instead of peace and harmony. Jesus had died and now there was talk that He had risen from the dead. But there are still doubts and questions. While they are arguing and debating their stories, Jesus himself stood among them, and they were startled and terrified and believed they were seeing a ghost. Jesus’ words are those of comfort. “Peace be with you!” Through this passage we are reminded that in spite of our faults and failures God is ever ready to come to us. Unfortunately, instead of fixing our gaze on him and believing in his words of pardon, we prefer to stay with our past and live in fear of punishment. If we turn our gaze to Him, He will open our minds to understand the scriptures, to understand everything that is taking place; it will all fall in place! His death was necessary to rise again to new life. Our sins, our death is necessary so that we too might rise up to new life. We are called to be witnesses not only of his death but of his resurrection; called to be witnesses of the forgiveness of sins; called to be witnesses of a God of Peace and New Life!


The Four-legged theologian

The sick man seized the doctor’s hand. “I’m so afraid to die. Do tell me doctor, what is waiting for me when I die? What will it be like on the other side?” “I don’t know.” answered the doctor. “You don’t know?” whispered the dying man. Without further reply the doctor opened the door into the corridor. A dog sprang in, jumped up to him and showed in every way his joy at seeing his master again. Then the doctor turned back to the sick man and said: “Did you see how the dog behaved? He has never been in this room before and does not know the people here. But he knew his master was on the other side of the door and so he leapt joyfully in as soon as the door opened. Now look: I don’t know anything exactly about what is waiting for us after death either, but it is enough for me to know that my master is on the other side. So when the door opens one day I shall go in with great joy.”

Pierre Lefevre from ‘One Hundred Stories to Change Your Life’


The wounds of love

There was a man who was very attached to his father, who had been a labourer all his life. When the father died the son was grief-stricken. As he stood quietly gazing down into the coffin in which he was laid out, he was particularly struck by his father’s hands. Even small things can reveal the essence of a person’s life. Later he said: ‘I will never forget those magnificently weathered old hands. They told the story of a countryman’s life in the eloquent language of wrinkles, veins, old scars and new. My father’s hands always bore some fresh scratch or cut as adornment, the result of his latest tangle with a scrap of wire, a rusted pipe, a stubborn root. In death they did not disappoint even in that small and valuable particular. ‘It is not given to sons to know everything about their fathers, but I have those hands in my memory to supply evidence of the obligations he met, the sweat he gave, the honest deeds he performed. By looking at those hands you could read a better part of the old man’s heart.’ Jesus said to the apostles: ‘Look at my hands and feet … Touch me and see for yourselves…’ He said the same thing to Thomas: ‘See my wounded hands and side. Cease doubting and believe.’

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’


Afterlife

In the movie Resurrection, actress Ellen Burstyn stars as Edna Mae McCauley who suffers near-death. As a result of a car crash, Edna Mae apparently dies in a hospital emergency room. After a few moments of frantic effort, the medics succeed in reviving her. During that interval of apparent death, Edna Mae has a mysterious experience of an afterlife. She is transported through a tunnel of light where she meets family and friends who have already died. When she returns to consciousness, she remembers this peaceful experience very vividly, and she is blessed with the power of healing. The movie Resurrection reflects what researchers like Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross have learned from people who have had similar near-death experiences. Such glimpses of an afterlife do not prove there is a resurrection after we die. They merely hint at its possibility.

Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’


Fresh Fish Sold Here

To sell fish a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish Sold Here.” To disturb business, his foe said, “You don’t sell stale fish, do you? So why write ‘fresh’? Agreeing the fisherman painted a new signboard with just: “Fish Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you are selling fish here, not there!” Nodding in agreement, the fisherman went back and returned with a new signboard –“Fish is Sold.” Now the foe appeared a third time and said, “Anybody with eyes will see that you are selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’!” The gullible fisherman was so confused he wanted to make still another signboard, forgetting that he was selling fish! – If there is something one really believes in beyond doubt, then, one must cling to that truth even if people offer advice, suggestions and even threats to change one’s belief. I’d imagine that the frightened fishermen-followers of Jesus were in the same predicament as the fisherman of our story as they sought to comprehend Jesus’ life-death-resurrection, and more importantly, to proclaim Him. Today’s readings help us to trace out their ‘faith journey’ from doubt to faith, from dread to fearlessness.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’


Get away Satan!

The devil once wanted to deceive a holy woman and appeared to her disguised as the risen Lord. “I’ve come to save you, my child!” said the devil. The woman looked up and said, “If you are Christ show me your wounds!” At this the devil replied, “I’ve come from heaven; in my glory!” The woman cried, “Get away Satan! A Christ without wound is no Christ!

Anonymous


Do we recognize Jesus?

There was once a little boy who always wanted to meet Jesus. One day he was walking home from Sunday school. As he went through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a park bench. She looked lonely and hungry, so he sat down and offered part of the chocolate bar he had been saving. She accepted it with a smile. He gave her more of the candy, and she shared a can of root beer with him. They sat together in a very friendly manner, eating and drinking and smiling at each other. When the boy got up to leave, he reached over the woman and gave her a big hug. He walked home smiling. His mother noticed his big smile and happiness on his face and asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” “I had lunch with Jesus. And she has a great smile,” he said. The old woman returned to the small apartment she shared with her sister. She too was smiling. Her sister asked her why she was so happy. “I just had lunch with Jesus. And he is a lot younger than I expected,” she said.

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’


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ILLUSTRATIONS:

From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:
# 16: Healing of the grandfather : The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber  was lame. One day  they  asked him to  tell  a  story about  his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s gospel.
1.    Bad news and good news:

"I've got some good news and some bad news to tell you.
Which would you like to hear first?" the farmer asked. "Why don't you tell me the bad news first?" the banker replied. "Okay," said the farmer, "With the bad drought and inflation and all, I won't be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest." "Well, that is pretty bad," said the banker. "It gets worse," said the farmer. "I also won't be able to pay anything on the loan for all that machinery I bought, not on the principal or interest." "Wow, is that ever bad!" the banker admitted. "It's worse than that," the farmer continued. "You remember I also borrowed to buy seed and fertilizer and  other  supplies.  Well,  I  can't  pay  anything  on  that  either,  principal  or interest." "That's awful," said the banker, "and that's enough! What's the good news?" "The good news," replied the farmer with a smile, "is that I intend to keep on doing business with you." [John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers), p. 71.] I don't know if that was good news for the banker or not. Two of the disciples of Jesus were on the road that leads to Emmaus. They were as low as that farmer because their Master had been crucified like a common thief. But now they’ve heard reports that their Master is not dead at all. Reliable sources have told them that he has appeared to some of their most trusted friends. Was he really alive? The disciples were troubled and afraid. Should they believe the good news or the bad?  And that's our dilemma, isn't it? DO WE BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OR THE BAD? The good news is that Christ is alive. The bad news is how little impact that event is having in the world today. 

2. Broken dreams:

Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton, in his book Horns and Halos in Human Nature, tells of one of the weirdest auctions in history. It was held in the city of Washington, D.C. It was an auction of designs, actually patent models of old  inventions that  did  not  make  it  in  the  marketplace. There  were  150,000 designs up for auction. There was an illuminated cat to scare away mice. There was a device to prevent snoring which consisted of a trumpet reaching from the mouth to the ear. One person designed a tube to reach from his mouth to his feet so that his breath would keep his feet warm as he slept. There was an adjustable pulpit which could be raised or lowered. You could hit a button and make the pulpit descend or ascend to dramatically illustrate a point. Obviously, at one time somebody had high hopes for each of those designs which did not make it. Some died in poverty, having spent all of their money trying to sell their dream. One hundred fifty thousand broken dreams! Is there anything sadder? Todays gospel describes the shattered dreams of two of Jesus’ disciples.
 
3.    The Risen Lord with the most beautiful smile.

A young boy was walking home through the park after attending a Sunday school class.  Somehow, he couldn’t stop thinking about the lesson for that day about Jesus’ teaching on the Last Judgment. What impressed him most was what the teacher said, "When you give something to another person, you’re really giving it to  Jesus,  and  you  will  find  the  risen  Jesus  in  every  one  you  meet." As  he continued through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a bench.  She looked lonely and hungry.  So he sat down next to her, took a chocolate bar he had saved and offered some to her. She accepted it with a beautiful smile and he watched her  smiles as she  chewed the  chocolate.  Then they  sat  together  in silence, just smiling at each other. Finally, the boy got up to leave.  As he began to walk away, he turned, ran back to the bench, and gave the woman a big hug. When he arrived home, his mother saw a big smile on his face and asked, "What made you so happy today?"  He said, "I shared my chocolate bar with Jesus." Before his mother could ask more questions, he added, "You know, she has the most beautiful smile in the world." Meanwhile, the old woman returned to her little apartment where she lived with her sister.  "You’re all smiles," said her sister. "What made you so happy today?"  She replied, "I was sitting in the park, eating a chocolate bar with Jesus. And, you know, he looks a lot younger than I expected."  Today’s gospel tells us that we will meet and experience the risen Jesus in unexpected places and persons. 

4.    Euryclea’s moment of recognition

In the 8th century B.C.  Greek epic poem The Odyssey we read the epic tale of Odysseus the ruler of the Island country Ithaca.  Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought so bravely in the Trojan War. But according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as the war god Jupiter and the goddess of wisdom Athena had decided to test Odysseus' true mettle through a series of trials. His journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens' voices. Meanwhile back at his home, Odysseus' wife Penelope and family had presumed him dead. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrived home at last. But instead of simply walking through the front door and crying out some Greek equivalent  of,  "Honey,  I'm  home!"  Odysseus  decided  that  he  needed  to determine if anything had changed during his long absence. Did his wife still love  him?  Had  she  been  faithful?  In  order  to  find  out,  Odysseus  disguised himself as a stranger in need of temporary lodging. The housekeeper, Euryclea, welcomed the apparent traveler and washed his feet as was usual for a guest. As she did so, Euryclea detailed the stranger with anecdotes about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had also served as a nurse when he was young. She told the traveler about how long her master had been missing, and she noted that by then Odysseus would be about the same age and of about the same build as the man stranger. As a young boy, Odysseus had been gored by a wild boar, and had a nasty scar on his leg from the tusk. As Euryclea finished washing the stranger’s feet, her hand brushed against that old scar. Instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master! Today’s gospel describes how the Emmaus travelers recognized their fellow traveler’s identity as the Risen Lord at the breaking of the bread. (Scott Hoeze). 

5.    “I met some guy in here last week who looks just like you!”

A man wrote to Reader’s Digest to tell about his father-in-law, whose name is Eugene. Eugene was in a restaurant with some business associates when a distinguished-looking gentleman rushed up to his table. Hardly able to contain his enthusiasm, the man began to pump Eugene’s hand vigorously, all the while addressing him as Joe, fondly recalling the great times they had together in the Army. Eugene, who had served in the Merchant Marines, gently told the man that he was mistaken, and had evidently confused him with someone else. The stranger, obviously embarrassed, apologized profusely and left. A week later, while leaving the same restaurant, Eugene bumped into the stranger again. This time, the stranger hugged him, and repeated to all within earshot the poignant story of two Army buddies who had not seen each other in years. Finally, before Eugene could speak a word, he said, “You know, you’re never going to believe this, but I met some guy in here last week who looks just like you! We could understand that happening. He hadn’t seen his old Army buddy in many years. We can even understand about the man in the hospital thinking another woman was his wife. But how do you explain Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb not recognizing the risen Christ? And how do you explain the two disciples on the road to Emmaus walking and talking with Christ for many miles that same day, and they too did not recognize him? Today’s gospel tells that story. 

6.    “Are you Jesus?”

Several years ago a group of computer salesmen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago.  They had assured their wives that they would be home in time for dinner. But the meeting ran overtime, and the men had to race to the railway station, tickets in hand. As they barged through the terminal, one man inadvertently kicked over a table supporting a basket of apples.  Without stopping, all the men reached the train and boarded it with sighs of relief.  But one of them paused, feeling a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple stand had been overturned.  He waved goodbye  to  his  companions and  returned  to  the  boy.  He  was  glad  he  had because the ten-year -old boy was blind. The salesman gathered up the apples and noticed that several of them were bruised.  He reached into his wallet and said to the boy, "Here, please take this ten-dollar bill for the damage we did.  I hope it won't spoil your day."  As he started to walk away, the bewildered boy called after him, "Are you Jesus?" Jesus comes to us in various disguises. 

7.    The story of "Wrong-Way Riegels"

is a familiar one, but it bears repeating. On New Year’s Day, l929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA. Picking up the loose ball, he lost his direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he reached the end zone. The Bruins were forced to punt. Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, demoralizing the UCLA team. The strange play came in the first half. At halftime the UCLA players filed off the field and into the dressing room. They sat around on benches and the floor. But Riegels put a blanket around his shoulders, sat down in a corner, and put his face in his hands. A football coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime. That day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riegels. When the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said, "Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second." The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He didn't budge. The coach looked back and called to him. Riegels didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, "Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second." Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears. "Coach," he said, "I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the university’s reputation. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face that crowd out there." Coach Price reached out, put his hands on Riegels'' shoulder, and said, "Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over." (Leadership, Spring 1992, "To Illustrate," page 49 .) No appearance of Christ after the resurrection is more vivid or beautiful than the episode that takes place on the Road to Emmaus because it is a story of singular grace and charm. The two disciples, like Roy Riegels, were traveling in the wrong direction. They had "fumbled" and were running away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They thought the game of life was over. Imagine their surprise when Jesus told them that the same team of disciples who had fled from the cross was going to start the second half of the game. He was telling them there would be a tomorrow. 

8.    Jesus on a Maple tree?

Here is an 80-foot tall maple tree in Milford, Connecticut that hasn’t changed much over the years. There are new leaves every spring, of course, and the leaves fall off every autumn. And there is the spot where a limb came off when Hurricane Gloria blew through in 1985.The spot where the limb was blown off caused quite a stir in the neighborhood sometime back. One of the residents, Claudia Voight, looked at the tree one day and saw what looked like the face of Jesus. "It took my breath away," she recalls. "I told my friend to come over and pretty soon we had the entire neighborhood here looking." Word spread quickly throughout the area and before anyone realized it the maple tree became a popular attraction as car after car drove by to see the face of Christ on the tree. Drivers slowed down as they passed by, while others parked and walked through yards to see firsthand this strange apparition. 

Eve Mizera, another Hawley Avenue neighbor, brought her 17-year-old son over to touch the tree in the hope it would cure him of the seizures that he suffers. "You never know," Eve says. Another resident, Cathy Cornwall, says she brought her three children over to see the tree. "We have a lot of single mothers in the neighborhood," she explains, "and teenagers who have to make tough decisions in these times." Cathy also sees the face in the tree as a message of hope. She says it’s "like a message to have faith in ourselves and to have hope for the world." ("Face of Jesus seen in a maple tree." The Morning Call. Allentown, PA, July 25,

1992, p B-25.) This brings us to our question for the day. Where in the world do we find Jesus? Today’s gospel gives us the answer that Jesus meets us on our life’s Emmaus road. 

9.    It takes the signal nine hours to get to earth.

In 1972, NASA launched an exploratory space probe called Pioneer 10. The mission of Pioneer 10 was to fly to Jupiter and take pictures of the planet and moons, and send back data about the atmosphere, magnetic field, and radiation belts. Many scientists did not think this would be possible, because they feared that the probe would be destroyed in the asteroid belt, and up to this point, no probe had made it past Mars. But, Pioneer 10 completed its mission in November of 1973, and continued to travel into space. By 1997, the probe had traveled six billion miles from the sun. In spite of the great distance, scientists are still able to pick up radio signals from the probe that they can still decipher. What is more remarkable than that, is these signals are sent by an 8-watt transmitter, which is only as powerful as a night light, and it takes the signal nine hours to get to earth. (Rev. Matt Sapp, http://www.ccountry.net/~svchurch/svcc/sermons/mark10d.htm) It is always amazing to me that a generation that takes for granted the wonders of science is so quick to dismiss the power and the purpose of the Creator who set it all in motion in the first place. God is alive. God is personal. God cares about you and God desires to reveal Himself to you just as Christ revealed himself to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. 

10. “But I’ve got this problem, I can’t sleep at night.''

Dr. Tony Campolo, in his film series, You Can Make a Difference, tells the story of a Christian colleague with a Ph.D. in English Literature who quit his job and became a mailman because Christ opened up a new tomorrow in his life. Tony went to the man’s apartment to try to persuade him to change his mind. Here is how Tony describes that encounter: Tony says, "I couldn’t change his mind, so I came back with the old Protestant work ethic thing. I said, Charlie, if you’re gonna be a mailman, be the best mailman you can be.’ He looked at me with a silly grin and said, 'I’m a lousy mailman.’ I asked, 'What do you mean, you’re a lousy mailman?’ He answered,

'Everybody else gets the mail delivered by one o’clock; I never get back until about five thirty or six.’ What takes so long?’ I wanted to know. He said, 'I visit! Thats why it takes so long. You wouldnt believe how many people on my route never got visited until I became the mailman. But I’ve got this problem, I can’t sleep at night.’ I asked, 'Why cant you sleep?’ He said, 'Who can sleep after drinking twenty cups of coffee?’ I began to get the image of this mailman on the job. He was no ordinary mailman. I could picture him going from door to door and at each home giving more than the mail. I could see him visiting solitary widows, counseling troubled teenagers, joking with lonely old men. I could see him delivering the mail in a way that was extra-ordinary for the people on his route. He’s the only mailman I know that on his birthday the people on his route get together, hire out a gym, and throw a party for him. They love him because he’s a mailman who expresses the love of Jesus everywhere he goes. In his own subtle  way,  my  friend  Charles  is  changing  his  world, changing  the  lives  of people, touching them where they are, making a difference in their lives. It may not sound like much, but that man who is delivering mail, like Jesus would deliver mail, is an agent of God who is changing the world." (Tony Campolo, You Can Make a Difference, Word, Inc., l984, pp 54-55.) We can return to our "Jerusalem" and wait for the energizing power of the Holy Spirit to help us to travel like the PhD. mailman in a new direction, doing the work that we feel Christ has called us to do. 

11. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?''

On March 20, 1983, John Sculley, President of Pepsi Cola and one of America’s fastest rising corporate stars, stepped off the elevator and into the penthouse suite of the San Remo apartment building in New York. He was there to give Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, an answer to his offer. For months, Jobs and his staff, badly in need of a brilliant leader to manage their rapid growth, had been trying to lure Sculley away from Pepsi. Sculley had discouraged their efforts. He had no interest in leaving Pepsi and he knew almost nothing about computers. Besides, he was slotted for the top spot at Pepsi and his salary, stock options and perks were beyond anything Jobs could hope to match. Still, Jobs persisted. Their conversation unfolded like this, according to Sculley: "We were on the balcony's west side, facing the Hudson River and he finally asked me directly: 'Are you going to come to Apple?' 'Steve, I really love what you're doing. I'm excited by it. How could anyone not be captivated? But it doesn't make sense. I'd love to be an advisor to you, to help you in any way. Anytime you're in New York, I'd love to spend time with you. But I don't think I can come to Apple.' Steve's head dropped as he stared at the pavement. After a weighty, uncomfortable pause, he issued a challenge that would haunt me for days: 'Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world?'" (Youth Worker, Spring 1993.)  When  the  two disciples recognized it  was the  Lord Jesus who shared dinner with them even though they had failed and forsaken him, "they never felt more loved." Their hearts burned with His love. Jesus declared to them that the game of life was only half over. They were to turn around and get back to Jerusalem and await further instructions and a new assignment. The schedule would go on as planned. Jesus was giving them a chance to change the world. That brings us to a question that we should often ask ourselves as we travel on our own Emmaus road. Are we affecting the world-- or is the world infecting us? 
 
12.  “What exciting thing is going to happen today?"
In Winnie-the-Pooh, Pooh and Piglet take an evening walk. For a long time they walk in silence. Silence like only best friends can share. Finally Piglet breaks the silence and asks, "When you wake  up  in  the  morning,  Pooh, what's  the  first  thing  you  say  to  yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" answers Pooh and then asks. "And what do you say, Piglet?" Piglet says, "I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today?" [Robert D. Dale, To Dream Again, (Broadman Press, Nashville, 1981).] You and I can't really plan to meet the Risen Christ because we never really know when or where He's going to show up. But you can be sure of this: He will show up. 
 
13.  And the light in his eyes does not go out:   
Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn demonstrated the power of the Word of God in his book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a book based on his own prison experiences. Ivan notices that one of his fellow prisoners in the Gulag Archipelago is not broken, and the light in his eyes does not go out, as it seems to in all the other convicts. This is because each night in his bunk before the glimmering bulb is turned off, this man reverently unfolds some wrinkled pieces of paper that have somehow escaped the censor. On them are copied passages from the Gospels. The Book of Life was the secret of this man's strength and endurance deep in the darkest corner behind the Iron Curtain. (Earl C. Davis in Sermons and Services for Special Days”, Jack Galledge, Ed. Nashville Convention Press, 1979) That is one way we encounter the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread of life which is the Word. 
 
14.  For Helen Keller it was a gigantic breakthrough:  
Young Helen Keller was imprisoned by her circumstances. She could neither see nor hear. She could feel with her hands, but without sight or hearing, how could she know what it was she was feeling? One day her teacher Ann Sullivan took Helen down a familiar path to the well house. Someone was drawing water there. Ann let the water run over one of Helen's hands and in sign language spelled into the other, WATER. Suddenly something happened within Helen. Something dramatic. Something life changing. It was only a five letter word, but for Helen Keller it was a gigantic breakthrough. She now had a name for familiar experience water. If this experience had a name, other familiar objects and sensations must have names as well. It was as if she had suddenly burst forth from a closely guarded prison. Now she could be a whole person, experiencing the world as a real human being in  spite  of  her  handicaps.  Such  a  breakthrough  is  always  exciting.  Such  a breakthrough came to two of the disciples of Jesus on their Emmaus journey described in today’s gospel. 
 
15. "Don't worry, Miss, I've got you."
Our tendency is to look for Christ in the extraordinary,  the  spectacular,  the  breathtaking.  Remember  in Superman:  the Movie when Superman first reveals his superpowers to the world? Lois Lane is dangling from a cable, high atop the Daily Planet building, screaming at the top of her lungs. Just as she begins her long fall to earth, Superman changes into his flashy red, yellow, and blue outfit and swoops up to catch her in midair. "Don't worry,  Miss," he  assures her,  "I've  got  you."  "You've got  me," she  exclaims. "Who's got you?" Just then the helicopter that has been perched on the edge of the building begins to fall straight toward them and the crowd below. But Superman merely grabs it with his one free arm and gently sets both it and Lois safely back on the landing pad. When he turns to leave, an astonished Lois stammers out the words, "Who ARE you?" "A friend," Superman replies warmly, and as he flies straight up into the air with a sort of half twist. Lois faints in a heap. [Jack Kuhatschek, The Superman Syndrome (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p. 133.] That's the way we would like for Christ to come to us. And that is why we miss him. Christ reveals himself as he has always revealed himself "through the Word and through the Sacraments," through the study of Scripture and the breaking of Bread. That is why when we need encouragement we go to our Bibles or we go to our church because there, Christ is revealed in all his glory. 
 
16.  "We pursue him in order to show him the way."
There is a gripping story of a traveler who was walking along the road one day when a man on horseback rushed by. There was an evil look in his eyes and blood on his hands. Minutes later a crowd of riders drew up and wanted to know if the traveler had seen someone with blood on his hands go by. They were in hot pursuit of him. "Who is he?" the traveler asked. "An evil-doer," said the leader of the crowd. "And you pursue him in order to bring him to justice?" asked the traveler. "No," said the leader, "we pursue him in order to show him the way." (Fr. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1990), p. 65.) The picture we have in the New Testament is of a God who pursues us so that God may show us the way. Christ comes to the two disciples. They do not recognize him, but it is he who takes the initiative. He walks with them and interprets Scripture for them. 
 
17.  The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches.
There is a story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted. Trying  to  reach  the  coast  for  a  boat  to  England  that  night,  he  ended  up wandering in the pitch black night, hopelessly lost. In the darkness, he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he began to climb the post so that he could read it. As he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized that, rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Then he remembered the One who had died for him . . . who had endured . . . who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches. ("To Illustrate," Preaching Magazine, Jan-Feb 1989.) Maybe that's what you and I need to do in the moments of our distress and darkness, “strike a match in the darkness and look on the face of Jesus Christ.” For Christ is here. He comes to us just as he came to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus even though we may not recognize him. He takes the initiative. He knocks on the door. 
 
18. Healing of the grandfather :
The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber  was lame. Once day  they  asked him to  tell  a  story about  his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s gospel. 


 19. The ghost story!

There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help--friends and neighbors, police--everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regained consciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The first thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her. But he got no further than, "Hello darling, it’s me," when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, but they all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghost and slammed the door in his face.  Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn't heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus had to convince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel their doubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. He invited them to touch him and see that he was real. And he even ate a piece of cooked fish with them--all to prove that he was alive and not a ghost or spirit. He stood there before them, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. (The Auto illustrator) 

 

20'  "What in the world happened to you?"

A man showed up at church with both his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked "What in the world happened to you?" The man replied, "I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear." "So how did the other ear get burned?" the pastor asked. "Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again." (COUNTRY, Oct-Nov 1994, p. 45, "Overheard at the Country Cafe," Bill Teweles.) Now there is a man who was focused. He was so caught up in watching the game, he didn't know what he was doing. In our gospel lesson for today the disciples of Jesus have lost their focus. They are confused and weary. They needed a break. 
 
21. A man at the Super Bowl. 

A man bought the very last seat for the Super Bowl. It was a rotten seat, closer to the blimp than to the field, but early in the first quarter, he noticed an empty seat on the 50-yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat furtively sat in the seat. "Excuse me," he asked, "is anyone sitting here?" 

"No," said the man on his right.

"That's incredible. Who in his right mind would pass up a seat like this for the Super Bowl?"

"Well, actually," said the man, "the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super bowl in twenty years that we haven't been together."

"How sad!" said the other fellow. "But couldn't you find someone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?"

"No," said the man, "they're all at the funeral of my wife!" 

The widower in the story was missing something in head and heart. Emotional crisis can blur our vision of reality as happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. 

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From Sermons.com 

Tolstoy once told a story of a Czar and Czarina who wished to honor the members of their court with a banquet. They sent out invitations and requested that the guests come with the invitations in their hands. When they arrived at the banquet the guests were surprised to discover that the guards did not look at their invitations at all. Instead they examined their hands. The guests wondered about this, but they were also curious to see who the Czar and Czarina would choose as the guest of honor to sit between them at the banquet. They were flabbergasted to see that it was the old scrub woman who had worked to keep the palace clean for years. The guards, having examined her hands, declared, "You have the proper credentials to be the guest of honor. We can see your love and loyalty in your hands."

A similar story is told of the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson went to the King of Burma to ask him if he might have permission to go to a certain city to preach. The King, a pagan, but quite an intelligent man responded, "I'm willing for a dozen preachers to go but not you, not with those hands. My people are not such fools as to take notice of your preaching but they will note those calloused, work scarred hands."

After his crucifixion, the disciples of Jesus were trying to sort out the meaning of the reports they had been receiving about appearances of the risen Christ. It was most confusing to them. Was it a hoax? They were not completely immune to superstition. Perhaps it was some kind of ghost. Suddenly it happened. Jesus himself stood among them. The disciples were startled and frightened. Then Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself..." The response of the disciples is a sermon in itself. Luke tells us that they "disbelieved for joy..." It was simply too wonderful to be true. He was alive and he was with them right there. No wonder they had difficulty believing. Some persons still have that problem today. Many desperately want to believe but something holds them back. "See my hands and my feet..." 

1. It Is Difficult to Believe God Cares That Much.
 2. It Is Difficult to Believe Life Goes on Beyond the Tomb.
3. We Have Trouble Processing the Implications of These Two Truths.
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Have you done time in the "pink aisle"?
If you've been there, you know what I mean. It's that entire section in Target or Toys'R'Us or wherever you shop, that glows with a Pepto-Bismol-bright pink haze. The corridor you trundle your shopping cart down is awash in pinks . . .
there is Barbie and all her accessories,
there are dolls of lesser nobility and parentage,
there are fingerpaints, Frisbees, . .. 
Whatever sits on those shelves, they all give off a ghastly pink glow. Stores really should provide special protective eyeshades to their shoppers before letting them venture down those dreaded "pink zones."
The problem with the "pink aisle" isn't really its color (although, let's face it, YES it is!) The problem with the "pink aisle" is that somewhere along the line some marketing executive determined that all the "girl stuff" would be relegated to a "pink zone" and branded with that awful shade of pink.
What had been a sweet "pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys" baby-shower tradition has become a hide-bound marketing mantra. Pink is a pre-requisite for marketing success. Pink is an absolute requirement. Pink is the dictator of what is acceptable for selling to a certain segment of the economy.
In short, pink is no longer a color. Pink is now a religion. Individuality and the rainbow of color possibilities are martyred to the iron law of "pink."
Unfortunately, what happens in the toy store doesn't stay in the toy store. What happens in the "pink aisle" doesn't stay in the "pink aisle." The dictates of convention and conformity, of cultural expectations and day-to-day demands, forces all of us to "put on the pink" if we want to get-along, go-along, and get-ahead. We become human pack animals. We live lemming lives.
Bring together a group of five-year-olds and ask how many of them sing. Every hand will go up. Bring the same group together when they're twelve, and ask how many of them sing. One hand will go up, the young "professional" singer and performer. What happens between five years of age and twelve that our children lose their song, the one-of-a-kind, unrepeatable, irreplaceable song God made them to be?... 
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We Are Made for God

Jesus knew that if his resurrection was going to do the world any good - if the disciples were really going to be able to proclaim a message of Good News that the world could hear and accept - then the resurrection had to be seen as something more than just the world's greatest divine parlor trick, more than just the ultimate surprise ending that would startle and jolt everyone who heard about it. No, the truth of Easter and the reality of Jesus' return from the dead had to be the capstone on a much larger story that went all the way back to the beginning. It must be seen as something toward which God has been working all along because then and only then can we understand that this has something to do with the core purpose for which we all were created in the first place. Somehow Easter does more than just offer the kind of generic "new beginning" and "fresh start" that some churches seem to reduce it to each year.
Easter does not mean that a better day is coming by and by, that with a little bit of luck we can turn things around in our lives, or that there is no situation so difficult that God cannot cause a bright new day to dawn upon us. No, Easter means we were made for God. Easter means we were made for flourishing before the face of our God. And Easter means that the sin and evil that put up obstacles and caused a gaping chasm between us and God will not stand. God will bring all things back to their created intent. God will restore all things to himself. Easter is not only about the end of the cosmic story but is also a vindication ofthe beginning.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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The Only Easter Some Will Know

Jesus returns from the dead and meets his disciples in different places: the garden, the Emmaus Road, the seashore, the Upper Room. He witnesses to them that he is alive, this guy back from the dead with a body. He isn't content to send them a postcard from heaven: HAVING A GREAT TIME. WISH YOU WERE HERE. No. He shows up among them as his own witness. 

And he recruits as witnesses those other people with bodies. He wants them to move out and tell everyone who will listen and everyone who won't that bodies count, that he's back from the dead with a body, threatening them with life.
Those who recognize his witness become witnesses themselves. They put their bodies on the line. They become contagious with the forgiveness they've caught, carriers of resurrection. 

That's what this back-to-life Jesus wants of us: not names on a list, or what someone has called "pew potatoes." Jesus wants us as witnesses. Not airy spirits or pious ghosts, but bodies like his own with wounds to show, bodies that witness to resurrection, threatening the world with life. For the only Easter some people may ever see is the Easter they see in you and me.
Charles Hoffacker, A Guy With a Body
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Taste and See 
An elderly woman made her living selling artificial fruit. One day a customer complained the fruit she sold was not realistic enough. She pointed to an apple, saying it was too red, too round and too big to be a real apple. At that point the artificial fruit lady picked up the apple and proceeded to eat it.

The resurrection of Jesus, throughout the years has been critically examined, judged by authorities, and editorialized by writers, and the conclusion of most is that it is simply an event which cannot be proven and probably too good to be true. It may look like an apple but in actuality it is artificial fruit, they conclude. But if you will pick it up and take a bite you come to know that he really did rise from the grave. He is alive. He is listening to our prayers. He is ready to serve when that service deals with the human heart in need of a shepherd's guidance and love.
George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright, was handed a newly written play by a fledgling playwright. Shaw was asked to give the young man a criticism of the work a few days later. "How did you like it?" asked the author. "I fell asleep reading it," said Shaw. "Sleep is my comment on your work."
My friend there is nothing boring about the resurrection. Easter dawns upon a world hidden in darkness. Easter awakens every sleeper with the news that preacher of peace, the Prince of Power and the Lord of Love has appeared. Christianity is real. Christianity is alive. Christianity is anything but boring. Let us all wake up and smell the roses. Let us resolve to live our lives as if Jesus were a guest in our homes, workplaces and businesses. The truth is that the Lord is here, there and everywhere. He is alive. He is our Risen Lord to whom we offer our discipleship with love. 

The song goes, "They'll know we are Christians by our love." Let us be about our Father's business as we serve him with joy. Let us show and tell others the good news of the gospel.
Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com, adapted from Charles Michael Mills, To Dawn: Sermons For Lent And Easter Cycle B Gospel Texts, Lima: CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
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He Was Not a Ghost

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" (Luke 24:41). And now he has made the sacramental moment back into a meal.

That is so Luke. The Physician. Mr. Everything-is-flesh-and-blood; you're either poor or you're not poor; you're either hungry or you're not hungry; you're either sick or you're not sick; none of the in-between "Well, maybe we're poor in a spiritual sense." For Luke it's always a question of people's physical well-being. And physically, Jesus, who on Good Friday was completely dead, is now so completely alive that he wants something to eat. He is not a ghost.
There was some talk in the early church that maybe he was a ghost when he came back. He was not a ghost. He was not a shadow of his former self; he was his former self restored to life, victorious over death. This is not a metaphysical encounter, but a physical one. It was not an illusion, not a dream, but flesh and bone and blood.

Keith Grogg, A Ghost Does Not Have Flesh and Bones
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Go to the World

Jesus did not command the whole world to go to church. Jesus commanded his church to go to the whole world.
Traditional
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Christ Understands Us

The gospels of the New Testament do not demand that we understand Christ. Rather, they offer the burden-lightening insight that Christ understands us. We do not have to understand Easter to experience Easter.
Christ's capacity for understanding defies our comprehension. This one who inspires magnificent visions also ministers amid shattered dreams. This one known as the Prince of Peace does not shy away from chaos and conflict. This one who taught us to pray accepts people who are so troubled that they can't pray. This one who offers salvation identifies with people confounded by feelings of lostness. This one who offers unmatched encouragement knows better than any other the depths of discouragement.
Do you hear? Do you grasp the meaning? If you did not sense the joy of Easter morning, if you have not felt Christ rise, if you cannot shout hallelujah, that does not mean that you must drop your head and take off toward Emmaus or some other place to give up. Christ understands. He understands you. So, Christ appears.
The presence of Christ among us does not depend upon the quality of our understanding of Christ or even upon the nature of our reception of his presence. Christ appears in the midst of people not even looking for him.

C. Welton Gaddy, For Those Who Missed Easter
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The Secret of Power

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them - how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?
So the explorer did what all good explorers do - he said to the people, "go and find out for yourselves what it is like", and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.
The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river - and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.
I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart. Amen
Richard Fairchild, So They Could Understand
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Touch Sanctifies Memory

Touch sanctifies memory. I have a favorite cup for my morning coffee. It was my mother's long before it was mine. For years it had its place on the kitchen window sill in my boyhood home. The chip is still on the rim, reminding me of the horseplay my sister and I enjoyed in a time when kids actually washed and dried dishes. My mother's hands have long since relinquished that flowered coffee cup, but because she was all that she was to me, I can hold it and remember.
We do well to gather our memories around things we can touch, especially baptismal water and the bread and wine of the Easter meal. These sustain us as we journey, hand in hand, with the whole company of the faithful, toward the eternal Easter yet to come.
F. Dean Leuking, "Touch and See," article in The Christian Century April 2, 1997 p. 337
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The Surprising Bible

The Bible is nothing if not surprising, and on a fairly regular basis at that. We forget this. In fact, sheer over-familiarity breeds not contempt exactly but a barely stifled yawn as we read yet again the old, old story that we have known so long we can hardly see it with new eyes anymore. For preachers, this is at once an occupational hazard and a great opportunity. The hazard is that we ourselves are too familiar with the Bible and its stories to get startled by it all. We too preach on these texts as though rehearsing for the millionth time the recipe for making shortbread cookies or something. So in our studies we read the text and we nod. Yes, I remember this. Then we write our sermons and continue to nod in agreement that yes, yes, yes, this is the basic truth to be boiled out of this passage. And come Sunday we deliver our sermon and the congregation also nods in agreement (and maybe now and then just flat out nods off!).
And so we look on this second Sunday after Easter at the end of Luke 24. The big drama of the much-loved "Road to Emmaus" story is now finished and we come to what in Luke is a kind of post-climactic little bit of narrative that rounds off the larger story.
But what we sometimes forget-seeing as we don't come to a passage like this one until a good two weeks after Easter-is that in Luke's narrative, it is still that first Easter day. At this juncture in the narrative, we are still within 24 hours of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Yes, we in the church tossed out the lilies two weeks ago. We already went through "Low Sunday," that Sunday after Easter when it becomes clear that most of the church's energy had been expended on Easter Sunday-the crowds are smaller, the expectations are lower, the service is "typical" and contains none of the bells and whistles of the previous week.
And now we're one week away from even that "Low Sunday." It's nearly May. Thoughts turn toward all things Spring - the flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, kids are hurtling toward the end of the school year and we've got graduation open houses to plan and summer vacations to arrange. We're moving on from Easter. But the Lectionary says, "Slow down, church! Let's talk about the Resurrection one more time!"
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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The Irony of the Resurrection 
There is a great irony at play for us about the crucifixion and the resurrection. For the ancients it was unthinkable that the Messiah, that anyone who was God or was favored by God, could be crucified. In our time I suspect most of us accept that the world and societies can cruelly dispatch even the finest of God's people. We can claim that without fear of creating scandal or being thought foolish. On the other hand, the resurrection which was a great surprise to Jesus' followers, but which once they understood it, was also a source of great joy to them, has become the stumbling block and the fool's belief. How does an intelligent person believe in a walking dead man?
Buechner believes just that. He says: But I can tell you this: that what I believe happened and what in faith and with great joy I proclaim to you here is that he somehow got up, with life in him again, and the glory upon him. And I speak very plainly here, very un-fancifully, even though I do not understand well my own language. I was not there to see it any more than I was awake to see the sun rise this morning, but I affirm it as surely as I do that by God's grace the sun did rise this morning because that is why the world is flooded with light.
Dudley C. Rose, Here Are the Witnesses, You Are the Jury
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 Time for Bible Study

As striking as anything else in Luke's account of the resurrection is how understated so much of it is. Churches today tend to pull out all the stops on Easter Sunday morning - the brass blares, the pipe organ is at full throttle, and the "Hallelujah Chorus" very often caps off the entire worship service. 

Of course, there is more than enough good news on Easter so as to warrant hearty celebrations. But the biblical portraits are, by comparison, so modest. In Luke 24, Jesus simply walks up from behind while Cleopas and friend trudge dejectedly toward Emmaus. Then, not long after those two had flown back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about this amazing encounter, Jesus himself pops into that very room. There is amazement. There is great wonder. There is fear and also some doubts as to what they were really seeing.
But in the end there was . . .
 A friend shared with me a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner.
 The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor. 
The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years. 
The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions. 
The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. 
The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: "You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!" 
That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to produce great people. There is nothing more powerful or more Christ-like than sacrificial love.
 The king could not see the value in the humble lady. He missed the significance of the teacher. Often we miss the value of those around us. I think it would surprise us to know how often we miss the presence of Christ just as Cleopas and his brother missed the significance of the stranger on the road to Emmaus.
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How many of you here this morning remember "Stone Soup"? No, I don't mean the magazine. No, I don't mean the recipe.  
I mean the story. "Stone Soup" is an old folk-tale, told and re-told with slightly different details in dozens of countries and cultures. In case you've forgotten it is a fable that focuses on the ingenuity of some weary travelers who arrive at a small village with nothing. No food, no money, nothing. All they have is a large cooking pot. The travelers are met with suspicion and surliness everywhere they go. No doors are opened to them. No invitations of hospitality are extended.  
The travelers then build a fire in the commons of the village square. They fill their cauldron, their big pot with water and one large stone, and place it over the fire. They sit around the pot rubbing their hands in expectation, talking about their anticipation of a great delicacy - "stone soup."  
The villagers grow curious and one by one come out to ask the travelers what they are doing. Most importantly, what are they cooking that is exciting them so much? The travelers reply to each villager who approaches that the "stone soup" they are cooking is absolutely the most exquisite soup anyone could ever taste.  
But the best could be even better if it received just one more ingredient. To one villager they mention carrots. To another villager they suggest potatoes. To a third villager they muse that a big beef bone would add much to the mixture.  
As more villagers approach and more ingredients are suggested, the cauldron of "stone soup" gradually takes on the identity of a rich, thick stew - a stew capable of feeding all of those who contributed to its creation and then some. At the end of the story, all of the villagers and the travelers sit together on the commons and enjoy an unexpected and hearty meal together. 
"Stone Soup" is not a story about how to get a "free lunch." "Stone Soup" is a story about the transforming power of hospitality, but a reverse hospitality. It is the weary travelers with empty hands who invite the first wary villager to join them in their watery wares. It is the strangers who offered hospitality to the inhospitable hosts.  
"Stone soup" is the story of a gift of calories and community to a village that was too scared to share...
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Peace Is a Possibility 
Lucy of Peanuts cartoon fame, pictured with an air of discouragement, questions, "Do you think that life has any meaning when you have failed nine spelling tests in a row, and your teacher hates you?" While most likely for very different reasons, I rather suspect that most of us gathered this morning for worship have experienced our own times of despair, a time when it feels as if all of life is falling in upon us. Each of us has known times of anguish and despair, times when we have felt all alone, times of confusion and pain. 
John Wesley spoke of his experience of encountering the grace of God firsthand as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed - are these not indications of an Easter power and presence within us, the gift of the risen Christ's Spirit? Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed, are hearts ablaze with the promise of resurrection and new life, with the good news that fear and death do not have the final word, that love is stronger than hatred, that peace is indeed a possibility.

Joel D. Kline, Hearts Strangely Warmed
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 Living Generosity 
Is something missing from the current conversation happening in your church regarding stewardship, giving and generosity? Are you trying to guide your church towards a more whole-life perspective of generosity, but having difficulty finding materials to help you in that process? For this month only, we are offering a FREE VIDEO aimed at helping you start this conversation with your church.
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 Slow to Recognize Greatness 
Karl Barth, one of the twentieth century's most famous theologians, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lived and lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on the streetcar and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired.  
"Yes," said the tourist.
"Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth.
"Yes," he said, "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?"
Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning."
The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."  
That amuses me. That tourist was in the presence of the very person he most wanted to meet, but even with the most obvious clue, he never realized that the man with whom he was talking was the great man himself.  
It reminds me of Mary's reaction on Easter morning. In her grief, she thinks the man she is speaking to is the gardener. It is not, of course. Until he called her name she did not realize that she was speaking with the risen Christ. 
And, of course, it reminds me of that scene on the road to Emmaus, when later that same Easter day, two of the disciples walk for a while with the resurrected Jesus, and they, too, had no idea with whom they were conversing.
 King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com 
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 Recognizing at Last!
 
In the ancient Greek myth The Odyssey we read the epic tale of Odysseus. Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought so bravely in the Trojan War. But, according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as the gods had decided to test Odysseus' true mettle through a series of trials. His journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the sirens' voices.

Meanwhile, back at his home, Odysseus' wife and family presume he must have died en route back from Troy. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrives back home at last. But instead of simply waltzing through the front door and crying out some Greek equivalent of, "Honey, I'm home!" Odysseus decides that he wants to determine if anything has changed during his long absence. Did his wife still love him? Had she been faithful? In order to find out, Odysseus disguises himself so as to approach his home looking like a stranger in need of temporary lodging.

The housekeeper, Euryclea, welcomes the apparent traveler and performs for him the then-standard practice of foot-washing. As she does so, Euryclea regales the stranger with anecdotes about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had also served as a nurse when he was young. She told the traveler about how long her master has been missing and she noted, too, that by then Odysseus would be about the same age and of about the same build as the man whose feet she was washing. Now when Odysseus had been a young boy, he was once gored by a wild boar, leaving a nasty scar on his leg. As Euryclea went about her servile task, suddenly her hand brushed against that old scar and instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master!

Recognition scenes like that have long exercised a strong pull on the human heart. Sometimes this can be used for comedic effect, as in any number of episodes on the old I Love Lucy show when Lucy would disguise herself so as to worm her way into one of her husband, Rickie's, shows. And you always waited eagerly for that moment when Desi Arnaz's eyes would widen right before he'd exclaim, "Luuucccy!" But such shocks of recognition are also the stuff of high drama, as in The Odyssey and any number of plays, novels, and films across the centuries. And, of course, in also Luke 24.

Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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 From the Confessions of St. Augustine 
One of the greatest voices of the church was St. Augustine. He lived between the 4th and 5th centuries in Rome and was a Bishop. After Rome fell and faded into dust it was largely Augustine's writings that kept Christianity alive and made it the most influential movement the world had ever known. It is remarkable that between the 8th and 12th centuries his writings were more widely read than any other. And that was 400 to 700 years after his death.

But he was not always a saint. Before he was converted at age 29 he lived to fulfill every lust and pleasure. But Augustine had one great quality that saved his pitiful life - a praying mother. She never gave up on him until one day he stopped long enough to listen to the voices around him. Augustine had just heard a sermon by Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
We are told in public speaking and preaching classes not to read long quotes but I'm going to do it anyway and read something that Augustine wrote. These two paragraphs shaped the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. He is looking back on his conversion to Christianity and the convictions of his heart. Here's the quote: 

"One day, under deep conviction: I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out...So was I weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.

So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find... Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius (his friend) was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh...' No further would I read; nor needed I for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
 
Adapted from St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine
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Abide With Us 
In the King James Version of the Bible, the invitation of the two travelers reads, "Abide with me; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent," words which were the inspiration for that beloved hymn, "Abide with me/Fast falls the eventide." The hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte, for 25 years the vicar of the parish at Devonshire, England. He was 54 years old, broken in health and saddened by dissensions in his congregation. On Sunday, September 4, 1847 he preached his farewell sermon and went home to rest. After tea in the afternoon, he retired to his study. In an hour or two, he rejoined his family, holding in his hand the manuscript of his immortal hymn. 
Despite what most think, Lyte's "eventide" has nothing to do with the end of the natural day but rather the end of life. "Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day/Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away." The words are about the faith that faces life and death fearlessly and triumphantly in the light of the cross and the empty tomb....East of Easter. Thus Lyte could conclude, "Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee/In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me." Vicar Lyte died three months later. 
David E. Leininger, East of Easter
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 Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend. 
Albert Camus
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 Three Table Fellowships 
"The Scriptures speak of three kinds of table fellowship that Jesus keeps with his own: daily fellowship at table, the table fellowship of the Lord's Supper, and the final table fellowship in the kingdom of God. But in all three, the one thing that counts is that 'their eyes were opened, and they knew him.' 
"The fellowship of the table teaches Christians that here they still eat the perishable bread of the earthly pilgrimage. But if they share this bread with one another, they shall also one day receive the imperishable bread together in the Father's house." 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954), 66.
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 The Resurrection Changes Everything 
There's a story about a young boy named Walter Elias. Born in the city, his parents one day moved out to the country to become farmers. Walter had a vivid imagination and the farm was the perfect place for a young boy and a wondering mind. One day in the apple orchard he was amazed when he saw sitting on a branch of one of the apple trees an owl. He just stood there and stared at the owl. He thought about what his father had told him about owls: owls always rested during the day because they hunted throughout the night. This owl was asleep. He also thought that this owl might make a great pet.

Being careful not to make any noises he stepped over sticks and leaves. The owl was in a deep sleep because it never heard Walter Elias walking toward it. Finally, standing under the owl, he reached up and grabbed the owl by the legs. Now, the events that followed are difficult to explain. Suddenly everything was utter chaos. The owl came to life. Walter's thoughts about keeping the bird as a pet were quickly forgotten. The air filled with wings, and feathers, and screaming. In the excitement Walter held the legs tighter. And in his panic, Walter Elias, still holding on to the owl, threw it to the ground and stomped it to death. After things calmed down, Walter looked at the now dead and bloody bird and began to cry. He ran back to the farm, obtained a shovel, and buried the owl in the orchard. 

At night he would dream of that owl. As the years passed he never got over what had happened that summer day. Deep down it affected him for the rest of his life. As an older man he said he never, ever killed anything again. Do you see it? Something significant happened after that event.
Something that Walter didn’t miss. Something which transformed Walter Elias, something that redeemed him from the pit of despair, something that resurrected him, something that made Walter Elias into someone who we all have experienced in some way. You see his name changed to Walt Disney who created Mickey Mouse, Goofy and all those wonderful cartoon animals.