AD SENSE

Easter 3 Sunday 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.
*****
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.

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-faith
Lord, 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.
***********************************
 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.
core of life2. 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 be 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.
***********************************
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.

*****
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.

*****
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.

1The 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, using the funeral home phone.  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 Autoillustrator). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

# 2: “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 for the phone, got the 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.” [Bill Tewels, “Overheard at the Country CafĂ©,” Country (Oct-Nov 1994), p. 45.] — Here 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 need a break. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

# 3: “We’re walking proud!” Each year the Irish National Tourist Board invites marching bands from home and abroad to take part in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. The band from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester accepted in 1982. It was the eighth parade trip to Dublin for the “Marching Kings,” and they had won the major Irish awards in 1979. But a win in 1979 did not guarantee a win in 1982. In three years the band membership had changed almost completely, and they were in competition against over eighty international quick-stepping units. Flying to Ireland a bit early, the Kings marched in some smaller parades. At Galway their concert and jazz bands carried off first honors. Judges of the Limerick parade voted them the top school band. These awards were encouraging but second-class. Band Director Ray Shahin would not let his team relax. At Dublin, he warned them he would simply not let them beat themselves. Well, the big parade took place on March 17 on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. Traditional Irish rain mixed with hail didn’t make the high stepping any easier. The Marching Kings did their best, but the prize winners were not to be announced until evening. They all went to an official dancing party tired and tense. Finally, at 8 PM Mr. Shahin came in with the verdict. Color Guard and Twirlers category, first place: Bishop Kearney. Best overseas band category: Bishop Kearney. And finally, over-all best band category: Bishop Kearney. Pandemonium broke loose. The 140 winners sprang to life again, cheering, hugging, weeping. Two days later their schoolmates welcomed them back to Rochester with a banner inscribed “We’re walking proud!” — God permits us all occasional moments of unexpected delight. “Pinch me,” we say, “I think I’m dreaming.” Thrills like these can help us to appreciate the far greater joy of the disciples at Easter. The Jesus whom they had seen hurried off to death stood live again before them. “They were incredulous for sheer joy and wonder.” (Luke 24:41 Today’s Gospel.) -Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

# 4:  The “miracle principle”.  The great promoter of positive thinking, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (died, 1993 at 95), believed that one of the most wonderful principles known to man is called the “miracle principle”. Six words describe the principle: Expect a miracle – make miracles happen. According to Peale, if you keep your eyes open expectantly every day for great and wonderful things to happen, great and wonderful things will tend to happen to you. If one expects great things from God, one will receive great things from God. How then, can one go about expecting miracles and causing miracles to happen? According to Rev. Peale, the number one thing is to have a tremendous Faith, a deep Faith – a Faith that is so positively strong that it rises above doubt. He asserts that if we train ourselves to have faith in depth, it will release an astonishing power in our life to produce miracles. –Indeed, there are some people who are figuratively swimming in a sea of troubles. They are so discouraged and dismayed by so many things that it is impossible for them to believe that a life-giving miracle could ever happen in their lives. The disciples of Jesus who were devastated by the event of their Lord’s passion and death were similarly troubled with doubts, fears and despair. An Easter apparition was necessary to assure them of the reality of a stupendous miracle: The Lord’s Resurrection. To the frightened and troubled disciples who were incredulous of the beautiful reality of the “miracle”, the Risen Christ revealed himself anew, opening their minds and hearts, instructing them about the Paschal event of His death and Resurrection, and its implications in their life as Easter witnesses. (Lectio Divina) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

5. A man dies and goes to heaven.  As St. Peter shows the newly arrived man around the heavenly city, they hear singing coming from a nearby building.  When the man asks Peter what’s going on, Peter says, “Ssshh! That’s the [name your least favorite Christian group].  They don’t know the rest of us are here.”  (It’s a tired old joke, but it says a lot about Christian disunity).

 

19 Additional anecdotes:

1) 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 her funeral!”

–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. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

2) “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” A train was racing for Paris.  In one of its compartments two men sat opposite each other.  The first was a young medical research student who was bored by the long journey.  The other was an old man reciting his rosary with closed eyes.  The young researcher began to ridicule the old man for his superstitious beliefs.  He then went on to tell of the wonders of medical science.  The old man just nodded, smiled and continued his prayer in spite of the humiliating comments of his fellow passenger.  When they reached the Paris station, the old man enquired where the youngster was going.  The young man proudly announced that he was going to attend a lecture by the world-famous scientist, Louis Pasteur.  The old man took out a visiting card from his pocket, gave it to the young man and bid him farewell.  The card read: “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” — Pride and prejudice often blur our vision and occasionally blind us to reality, leading us to wrong judgments as it happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

3) “We can see your love and loyalty in your hands.” 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 scrubwoman 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.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the unbelieving disciples: “See my hands and my feet…” They were invited to remove their superstitious doubt that he was a ghost. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

4) Witnessing with power: 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. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

5) The Godfather In the early 70s, the Mafia, especially in New York City, was washed up and worn out. Then the movie, The Godfather, came out. More than anything else, it was that movie that brought the Mafia back to life. The Godfather movie energized them and told them who they were. They weren’t thugs. They were just like every other ethnic group: trying to get their piece of the pie, trying to make the dream of the American Promised Land come true. And that was the beginning of their comeback.– This morning, we are like the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion: washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures. Then Jesus changed everything. It was Jesus’ appearance and assurance that energized them and reminded them of who they were and could be. This morning, Jesus appears to us in his Word, we who are washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures, energizing us with the mission of who we are and who we can be—if only we “Trust and Obey.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

6) “Run for your lives! Run for your lives!” The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once told a story about a circus that caught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surrounding the circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circus master, convinced that the village would be destroyed, and the people killed unless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the village and warn the people. The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped on a bicycle and sped down the hill to the village below. “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! A fire is coming, and the village is going to burn!” he shouted as he rode up and down the streets of the village. “The village is going to burn! Run for your lives!” Curious, the villagers came out of their houses and shops and stood along the sidewalks. They shouted back to the clown, laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clown shouted, the more the villagers cheered. The village burned to the ground and the loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all, he was just a clown. [Soren Kierkegaard, Parables of Kierkegaard (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press 1978).] — It’s startling the amount of influence we don’t have when we look like clowns and don’t live like Jesus. And when we don’t live our Faith, we’re startled when our Faith is challenged or when it comes under attack, even though Jesus said this would be normal for Christians who truly lived their Faith. But the most startling thing of all is that this startling Savior, Jesus, still reaches out in startling encounters and changes lives. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

7) Like the story of Luiqi Tarisio who, some years ago was found dead one morning with hardly any creature comforts in his home, except the presence of 246 exquisite violins. He had been collecting them all his life. They were all stored in the attic. The best violins were found in the bottom drawer of an old rickety bureau. The greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, when it was finally played, had had 147 speechless years. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that exquisite music. — How many of Christ’s people are like old Tarisio? In our very love of the Church we fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? Don’t bury God’s Good News of Easter at the bottom of a rickety old bureau. Let the people hear the great sound of the music: “He is Risen!” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

8) “I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” Malcolm Muggeridge died in the fall of 1990. He was a highly intelligent man who served at various times in his life as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, editor of Punch magazine, and well-known television personality in Great Britain. It was as an adult, rather late in his life, that he finally became a Christian. He wrote of his dilemma as a journalist-turned-believer in his works such Jesus RediscoveredChrist and the MediaSomething Beautiful for God, and his multivolume autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time. The “wasted time” he wrote about were those wasted years before he knew Christ as his Savior. Muggeridge frequently spoke and wrote of “feeling like a stranger” in the world. In an interview a few years before his death, Muggeridge was asked if he would be willing to explain that feeling. His answer is worth repeating: “I’d very gladly do so, because I’ve thought about it often. In the war, when I was in North Africa, I heard some lieutenant colonel first use the phrase ‘displaced person.’ That phrase was very poignant to me, but it’s also a very good definition of a person who’s come to see that life is not about carnal things, or success, but is about eternity rather than time . . . I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” (Charles Swindoll, Maybe It’s Time to Laugh. Cited by Dicky Love in Parables, etc.) — Have you made that discovery yet? There is no joy in half-hearted Faith. Many of us have just enough religion to make us miserable. But Christ wants to make our lives a miracle. Those early disciples had trouble believing, first for fear, and then for joy, but when they did believe, it turned their lives and their world upside down. The point is that Muggeridge experienced a radical change in his life after he came to the realization that Christ is real and that Christ is alive. But what he discovered much to his amazement was that his new life was so far superior to his old life that he in no way would ever turn back. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

9) “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” A nurse in training went to one of her classes one day. The professor announced that there would be a pop quiz. She breezed through the questions, until she came to the last question. The last question was this: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” She thought it must be some kind of a joke. Whoever heard of that kind of a question on a test? She had seen the cleaning woman. She could describe her physically, but why should she know her name? She handed in her test, leaving the last question unanswered. She asked the professor, “Are you going to count that last question on the final score?” “Absolutely,” said the professor, “In your careers you are going to meet many people. Each one is significant. Each person deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” —Today’s Gospel reminds us that for the risen Lord, each of his apostles was important. (From Buzz Stevens). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

10) “That’s It!” There is another beautiful love story. It concerns the love of Paul Tournier, one of the world’s most beloved and respected Christian doctors, for his wife Nelly. In one of his books, Tournier describes how he and Nelly were able to talk about death after her first serious bout with coronary thrombosis while they were in Greece. She knew how gravely ill she was and that a second attack could leave her severely handicapped or could even be fatal. Their last month together was a time of intimate sharing. On the last day she said to him, “Perhaps it would have been better if I had died of my heart attack a month ago.” Tournier responded, “And yet my Greek colleagues have done a good job. They saved your life. You are glad of that.” “Yes, of course,” she said, “if I can get back to Geneva and see my children and grandchildren.” She was silent for a moment, and then added, “But if I had died, I should be in Heaven now, and I should be meeting your parents.” Tournier was touched by this. He writes, “You see, she also married my expectation of Heaven!” He replied to her, “Well, when you arrive in Heaven, my parents will thank you for having been the wife that you have been for their son.” It was to be Tournier’s last words to her. A moment later she put her hand on her heart and exclaimed, “That’s it!” He asked, “Are you sure?” She answered “Yes.” And she was in Heaven. [Paul Tournier, A Listening Ear (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).] — The world simply cannot deal with that kind of expectation. Without the Easter Faith, not only death but life itself is ultimately meaningless. What value is there in love that ends beside a grave? Father Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

11) “They would not use the same rope that had been used by the ‘untouchables.’” Some years ago the papers were full of a story about the death of seventy-eight people in New Delhi, India. There had been a bus accident and, in the bus, had been two castes of Indians. A man tied a rope to a tree, and all eleven “untouchables” climbed out to safety. But seventy-eight Indians died because they would not use the same rope that had been used by the “untouchables.” [George F. Regas, Kiss Yourself and Hug the World (Waco: Word Books, 1987).)] — How outrageous are the claims of the Gospel! The Divine Creator of all that lives and moves and has its being came down to earth and suffered and died to say to us that no one on this earth is untouchable. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

12) “We will raise you up”: The priest (“poojary”) of a small Hindu congregation in a tribal area in India was being proselytized by some energetic Christian missionaries.  He listened for a while and then said to them: “Gentlemen, look.  I have a proposal that will settle this.  I have here a glass of nux vomica, a poison which I use to kill rats.  If you will drink this poison and remain alive as your God Jesus Christ promised, I will join your religion – and not only myself, but my entire Hindu congregation.  But if you won’t drink the poison, well, then, I can only conclude that you are false ministers of the Gospel you preach because you do not trust that your Lord would not let you perish.”  This created a problem for the missionaries.  They conferred with each other and said, “What on earth are we going to do?”  Finally, they arrived at a plan of action.  They came back, approached the Hindu priest and said, “Here is our   plan.  You drink the poison, and we’ll raise you from the dead by the power of Jesus!” —  Our Scripture for this third Sunday of Easter is about believers.  But it is also about doubting and wondering and trying to figure things out. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

13) Fresh fish is sold here: To sell fish, a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish is 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 is Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you’re selling fish here, not there!” Nodding his 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’re selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’! The gullible fisherman was so confused that 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 beliefs. I’d imagine predicament of the fisherman in 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

14) Same Sermon Repeated: It was his first Sunday in the parish, and the congregation were on full alert to form their initial judgment of their new parish priest. His homily was excellent. This was a great relief to all. The following Sunday the crowds had increased significantly, probably because the good news had gone around during the week. To the surprise of those who were there the previous Sunday, the priest proceeded to give the exact same sermon. They excused this in the belief that there were so many new-comers this morning, which was all very well until the next Sunday, the next Sunday, and, indeed, the following Sunday, the very same sermon! Two or three of the parishioners decided to approach him as diplomatically as possible, to talk to him about how they felt about what was happening. They were extremely diplomatic. “That’s a very good sermon, Father.” “Oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you found it helpful.” “We were just wondering, Father, if you realise that you have given the exact same sermon for the past five Sundays.” “Oh. Yes, I know that,” replied the priest. “Well, Father, without wishing to be offensive, but we have to have an answer for those who sent us in here, do you have any other sermons?” “Oh, of course, I have plenty of other sermons.” “Well Father, you will be going on to one of the other sermons, won’t you?” “Of course, I will,” replied the priest. “When will that be, Father?” “I promise you that I will move to the next sermon— as soon as I see you doing something about the first one!” — If we don’t get the truth of Resurrection, what is the point of any further discussion? (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

15) Shattered dream or rebirth of a dream? There was a train driver who drove his train up and down the same line every day. There was this lovely little cottage set in a short distance from the track. Its white walls shone in the sun. In front of it grew the most gorgeous roses he had ever seen. It was like something one imagines exists only in picture postcards. He soon fell in love with it. One afternoon as he was passing he saw a little girl playing on the front lawn. She waved to him as the train swept past. He hooted the horn in response. The same thing happened next afternoon. Thus began an innocent and beautiful friendship between him and the child. Every afternoon she waved to him, and he hooted the horn in response. Sometimes the girl was joined by her mother, and they both waved. It made him very happy, and also made the monotonous journey seem short. Years passed. The child grew up. Only occasionally now was she there to wave to him. Nevertheless, the bond that had been forged over the years was still intact. Then he retired and went to live a distance away. But he could not get the cottage and his two friends out of his mind. So, one day he decided to visit them. When he got there, things were very different from what he had imagined. The walls of the cottage were not nearly as white as he had thought. The roses were not as beautiful as they seemed. But the biggest disappointment of all came when he met the woman and her daughter. They were polite to him when he told them who he was. They led him into a gloomy parlour where they chatted over tea. But he felt out of place. So, he left as soon as he could politely do so. He felt empty. His dream world had dissolved. The friendship which had given so much meaning to his life was shattered.– Is our faith a dream world or the true reality? (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

16) 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 the Risen Lord 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

17) 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.

18) Near death experiences and 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

19) “I had lunch with 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021. L/21 


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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.