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The Week of April 30, 2017


 

Brief reflections on the week’s Scripture readings.

 


The Word…

 Two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village

seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
While they were conversing and debating,

 Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him…
And he said to them, “Was it not necessary that the Christ

 should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
…While he was with them at table,

he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
(from Luke 24: 13-35)
 

 

Pondering the Word…

Luke doesn’t say why Cleopas and his companion are going to Emmaus. Perhaps they need to get away to clear their heads. Maybe they’re afraid and decide to get out of town. Either way, you can imagine their emotions. They’re grieving, not only the loss of their friend, but the loss of hope and the death of a dream. They worry what will become of them. Will they be shunned by their families and neighbors? Will they be persecuted or killed? Things are heavy on their minds so it is hard to see past the grief.

Sorrow and fear can blind us, and worry about the future can keep us from seeing the bigger picture. Like these travelers to Emmaus, we might overlook important lessons we are to learn. It can be good to have someone walk along with us, someone who can provide a different and perhaps challenging way of looking at our experience.

Jesus is ready to walk along with you too. Let him draw near and open your eyes and your heart.


Living the Word…

Do you remember a time when something you read or heard “burned” your heart? The burning either lit a fire within or singed you at the center of your being. It could have been a speaker, a particular Scripture passage that got under your skin, a poem or inspirational reading that brought you to tears. It is so important not to ignore these heart messages. Seek the guidance of a trusted wisdom figure in your life to help you decipher the lesson. Ask God to guide you and help you understand the burning in your heart.


May 1: "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." (Jn 6:22-29)

“Well, this sounds easy. All I have to say is I believe in Jesus, and it’s a done deal. This doing the work of God is a piece of cake.” What does belief in Jesus, or for that matter, in anything, mean to you? Is it an affirmation that defines your life? Is it an intellectual exercise (ala Pascal’s Wager) or a heartfelt passion that determines how you treat yourself, others, and the world? This question is great fodder for prayer. Take some time to write down some specific answers: “What does it mean to believe in Christ?” Don’t rely on some textbook or catechism. What does it mean to you? Then ask yourself, “Am I living true to what I claim to believe?” Be honest but gentle with yourself; most of us fall way short of this goal. See if you can identify one or two things you can practice to be truer to the one in which you believe. “I do believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mk 9:24)

 

 May 2: Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit…”
(Acts 7:51-8:1)

The last line in the reading from Acts yesterday is: “All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at (Stephen)
and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
I guess given the words he speaks today, perhaps he looked more like one of those Old Testament angels, “terrible indeed!” (Jgs 13: 6) I don’t know anyone who likes to be chastised, and woe to the one chastising if the target is a whole lot of people. Groupthink takes over, defenses are raised, and things go downhill from there. As we talked about on Sunday, we often avoid words or people that challenge the way we are living. We can get defensive and dismiss the messenger. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us these irksome nudges can carry lessons we need to learn if we are serious about faith. Let the Spirit guide you until you come to peace with the message your discomfort has for you.

 

May 3:I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand.” (1 Cor 15:1-8)

The Gospel in which you stand.” Are you standing on firm, level ground or do you find yourself sinking or stumbling? Lots of us take in the gospels sitting down—literally and figuratively: in a pew in church (even if we are actually standing!) or reading in our rooms. Listening to and reading Scripture are essential to our prayer life. But if we just stay seated in our nice comfortable chair, if we reserve our interaction with Scripture to Sunday morning worship, we are really missing the point. How’s your footing these days?

 

May 4: They came to some water, and the eunuch said, "What is to prevent my being baptized?" Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:26-40)

Eunuchs were not accepted in Jewish society. In Jesus’ time, they weren’t treated as badly as in the time of the patriarchs, but they were still not allowed admittance into the community. So this story contains a deeper meaning than just conversion. It is also a story of welcome and acceptance to a class of people who heretofore were ostracized. In Jesus’ name, we welcome one and all. Bears some reflection and prayer, doesn’t it?

 

May 5: The men traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. (Acts 9:1-20)

What happened to the men traveling with Paul” Did they get him to Damascus and high tail it out of there? Were they baptized as well? We’ll never know, but their experience likely changed them forever. Not many have dramatic calls like Paul’s, but if we are blessed, we get to see someone turning their life around to God. Maybe it’s a loved one who has abandoned their faith or someone struggling with addiction. No lightening, no falls to the ground, but a profound experience nonetheless; one that changes those who witness it forever.

 May 6: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (Jn 6: 60-69)

Let us pray today for the greatest of graces: of having nowhere else to go but to God. “I have no doubt that the aim and solution of life is the acceptance of God…I imagine God speaks to me and says simply—“I keep calling to you and you do not come,” and I answer quite naturally—“I couldn’t, until I knew there was nowhere else to go.” (Florida Scott-Maxwell, from The Measure of My Days.)

 


© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland.  “Come and See!”

Reflections are available at http://www.preacherexchange.com/comeandsee.htm

To receive “Come and See” via email, send a request to ehireland@loyola.edu


Elaine Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life. She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental psychology and spiritual guidance.  Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children, David and Maggie.

 

We hope you enjoy "Come and See!" and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at ehireland@loyola.edu with questions, comments, and responses.

 

© 2009, Elaine H. Ireland - Images@FaithClipart.com


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