"Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." The disciples on the road to Emmaus had already heard reports about Jesus' resurrection. It was at the forefront of their minds, but in spite of this, they did not recognize Jesus when he stood right before them.
Why not? Perhaps because they weren't looking for him. Maybe they didn't really believe that he was alive. Or it could be that his appearance was not the same as it had been before. Whatever the case, it's very interesting to learn that it was actually while celebrating the Eucharist that these men finally realized who was right there with them! "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread."READ MORE
"Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" This greeting from the resurrected Christ must have been a profound one for the disciples. They were living behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews," which really meant for fear of their own lives. They had seen what happened to Jesus and didn't want to face the same fate. Imagine the paralysis of this fear, keeping them locked inside a prison of their own making.
But even the walls and the locks could not keep Jesus out! He came "although the doors were locked" and brought them a message of peace. And then their fear turned to gladness for they "rejoiced when they saw the Lord." This transformation from sadness to joy, from fear to peace was not just a gift for these first disciples. It is a gift for all of the followers of the Lord, ourselves included!READ MORE
The idea of building Small Christian Communities SCC or Basic Ecclesial Communities BEC started immediately after the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II is the catalyst of the universal movement of a church model organized into SCC/BEC. Envisioned in the conciliar documents is a renewed church through the SCC. The formation of SCC movement is regarded as the concrete realization of the communitarian model of the Church (A Church of Community of Communities) envisioned and promoted by the Second Vatican Council. The conciliar ideas attributed to directly promote a church of communities like the SCC were as follows:READ MORE
"Peter said to him in reply, 'Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.'" Peter thought pretty highly of his faith. On the eve of Christ's death he professed, in essence, that he was more committed to Jesus than anyone else. And yet, we know how the story turns out: when put to the test in the moment that mattered, Peter "began to curse and to swear, 'I do not know the man.'"
On this Palm Sunday, we hear many stories of betrayal. The crowds, who once hailed Jesus with "hosannas," will soon be chanting, "Let him be crucified!" Judas, who was counted among the closest companions of the Lord, turns him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. And Peter falls short in the moment of truth, and then "went out and began to weep bitterly."READ MORE
"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." As we draw near to the great feast of Easter, the Church gives us here some food for thought regarding the idea of resurrection and eternal life. Today's Gospel shares the story of a dead man who came to life again by the power of Jesus. Lazarus, who had been lying lifeless in a tomb for four days, "came out" of the tomb, burial cloths draped around his body, in a moment that must have been absolutely astonishing! This miracle could not have been explained by anything other than divine power over life and death. It's important to consider that this story is not so much about Jesus' own resurrection but rather it is about OURS. Jesus uses the occasion of this restoration of his friend, Lazarus, to teach that we ALL can be raised to new life through the power of the Lord. Jesus tells us that we too can overcome death by believing in him: "everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."READ MORE
"Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him." The prevailing theology of Jesus' time led people to believe that any kind of disability was a punishment from God. So Jesus' disciples assumed that the man born blind suffered that affliction because of someone's sin: either his parents' or his own. But Jesus sets the record straight. Not only did he reject the idea that the blindness was a punishment for sin; he also went so far as to suggest that this very trial was an opportunity for God's glory to be revealed.READ MORE
"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth." Are we true worshippers? Do we praise and honor God the Father in the way Jesus described to the Samaritan woman at the well? It seems that this woman was caught up in logistics about WHERE to worship more than HOW to worship. Her people worshiped in one place, the Jews in another. She was puzzled by this and, even though she could see that Jesus was a prophet, she challenged him because she thought perhaps he wasn't a true worshipper of God. The Lord's response to her was to shift the focus away from a particular physical location for honoring God. In essence, he told her that what mattered was that we worship God by being filled with his Spirit, "the Spirit of truth, [who] will guide you to all truth," as Jesus will say later in John's Gospel (16:13). This woman, whose life was marked by such a sad string of broken relationships, had been missing the point.READ MORE
"When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid." Peter, James, and John already knew Jesus. They had been following him, learning from him, watching him for quite some time. But what took place before their eyes at the Transfiguration was unlike anything they had yet witnessed. This was not just a miracle or a message: this was a supernatural vision. When Jesus' face suddenly "shone like the sun" and two ancient prophets appeared and spoke, and a heavenly voice announced the true identity of their friend and teacher, these three disciples nearly fainted in fear. It must have been too glorious, too strange, too astonishing to handle.READ MORE
"He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry." And no surprise! That's an incredibly long time to fast. Undoubtedly Jesus' physical and emotional strength would have been extremely weak after enduring such a marathon of abstinence. And isn't it interesting that the "tempter" should choose to appear at this particular moment? When bread must have sounded better than ever, the devil comes and tests Jesus, saying, "Command that these stones become loaves of bread."READ MORE
"Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?" No, indeed we can't. But evidence does suggest that worrying can subtract time from our life span! Clearly, we are not meant to worry. It's not healthy and it's not useful. But for many of us, it's quite difficult not to be anxious and concerned about matters that are important to us. So what is the secret to letting go of this unnecessary anxiety?READ MORE
"Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow." Today Jesus continues the powerful teaching of his Sermon on the Mount. Typical of this famous sermon, here he urges us to see things in a new way, specifically regarding situations and people who bother us. First, he tells us not to seek revenge. Instead, we are to demonstrate incredible generosity. Then, he instructs us to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." These instructions don't come naturally to most of us. We are much more inclined to want to get even with those who cause us to suffer, and to wish ill for those who have hurt us. But Jesus proposes another way.READ MORE
"Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus presents two paths for us today: we can break his commandments or obey them. And the result corresponds to our choice. If we decide not to follow God's guidelines, we will not enjoy the fullness of the kingdom of heaven. But if we choose otherwise, eternity will look much brighter for us! Of course, it's easy to know in our minds what the right choice is. But putting this into practice is another matter. The commandments Jesus gives in today's Gospel are not easy to follow. He takes the ancient Ten Commandments to a deeper level of commitment. He says more than do not kill. Rather, do not even harbor anger in our hearts. He says more than do not commit adultery. Rather, do not even indulge in lustful thoughts. He says more than do not lie. Rather, do not even swear.READ MORE
"You are the light of the world." Speaking to his followers, Jesus tells them of the influence they are meant to have. Like the seasoning that gives food its flavor, they are to be "the salt of the earth" and like a lamp on a lamp stand that "gives light to all in the house." Clearly, their influence on the people around them is meant to be positive and substantial. But what is the source of this irreplaceable influence?READ MORE