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This Sunday's Programme

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3rd Sunday Easter A

Sunday 23rd April 2023

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 24: 13-35

Now on the same day that the women had been to the tomb, two of the disciples left Jerusalem to go to Emmaus which was about twelve kilometres away. As they went they talked about past days. Between themselves they struggled to make sense of what had happened. Then Jesus himself took up with them but they were prevented from recognising him. Then he asked them: ‘What are you talking about?’ They stopped dead, sullen. One of them, Cleopas by name, said: ‘Bah, you must be the only visitor to Jerusalem that doesn’t know what’s been going on!’ He replied: ‘What things, come on, tell me.’ They said: ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth, he was a man, a prophet, who really was powerful in what he said and did – both before God and before the people. Well, the chief priests and our rulers condemned him to death and crucified him! We had hoped that he would save Israel. Then, on the third day, when we knew he would have been really dead, some of the women from our group amazed us. They went to the tomb early in the morning. They didn’t find the body but came rushing back to tell us that they had had a vision of angels who had told them he was alive. Some of our group went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said but they didn’t see him.’

‘You idiots, are you that slow in believing what the prophets were all about! Didn’t the Christ have to suffer all those things before entering into glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and going through the prophets, he showed them how to read the scriptures so that they could understand him.
As they came to the village which was their destination, he made out that he was going on further. They wouldn’t hear of it and virtually forced him to stay: ‘Stay with us! Look it is getting late, the day’s over.’ So he went in to stay with them. As they were together for the meal, he took the bread, blest it, broke it and as he handed it to them, their eyes were opened and they recognised him and, at that moment, he became invisible to them. Then they said to each other: ‘Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he talked to us on the way and explained the scriptures!’ Straightaway, they returned to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven with the others who told them: ‘It is true. The Lord really has risen. He appeared to Simon!’ So the two told their story about what had happened on the journey and how they had known him in the breaking of the bread.’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 15:1-2, 5, 7-11

Keep me safe God – for I take refuge in you.
I said to God: ‘You are my good,
apart from you I have nothing.’
God has given me all that I need,
so I am secure.

I praise God who guides me,
who teaches my heart, even at night.
I hold God before me at all times.
God takes my right hand.
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad,
my speech rich with praise.
My body rests secure.
You will not abandon me in Death
nor let me be overcome by decay.

You will reveal the path of life to me,
and bring me to the fullness of joy with you,
full and lasting joy for all eternity.

 

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, you know how our hearts burn within us to live fully in the life offered to us by the Risen Jesus but we are constantly betrayed by our false hopes and needs. Send us your Spirit to guide us so that we may meet Jesus in his Word and Sacrament and in the presence of the Christian community. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

Luke is a very accomplished story teller, rarely more so than in the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. In this story he gives the central core of Christian faith, that is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, a summary of the Resurrection appearances, firmly links these with Scriptural tradition and evokes the Proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the Last Supper: all this done while capturing the reader’s interest with a lively story written with vigorous vocabulary and poetic flair.

It begins with two disciples fleeing Jerusalem, their childish faith having been shattered by the death of Jesus and the seeming triumph of his enemies. In the Gospel of Luke Jerusalem was the place towards which the narrative focused as it was there that the saving acts of God would be accomplished. The departure of these disciples underlines how little they understood of what had happened and shows the depths of their despair. In the midst of that despair, Jesus breaks in on their conversation. The language of the Greek is vigorous, almost rude. In his teaching, Jesus reveals to them the continuity between the Scriptures and what had happened in his Death and Resurrection. This is a basic tenet of the Lukan story.

One of the techniques by which Luke drives the narrative is that of blindness and recognition. As the day fades, they are actually walking into the light of understanding while listening to Jesus. In the gesture of blessing, they finally see Jesus, only to have him disappear. Then with the fire of recognition, not only concerning their travelling companion but also of the meaning of his Death and Resurrection, they are able to return in darkness to their companions in Jerusalem to preach the wisdom they have been given.

There is a lot of talk in this story: the disciples with each other, Jesus with them, they with each other on the return, and finally with the other disciples back in Jerusalem. One can almost hear them talking excitedly over each other in their joy. This is another tenet of Lukan theology: the presence of Jesus is made manifest in the community as they witness to each other of their experience of him.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

This Sunday’s Gospel story is full of vigour – unfortunately the English translations miss this. The discussion of the two disciples leaving Jerusalem is heated and loud – loud enough to be overheard. They are throwing backwards and forwards their ideas on what had happened, struggling to make sense of the past few days. This is what the unknown traveller hears and when he interrupts, their response borders on rudeness. The traveller responds insultingly: he calls them foolish and slow. They have missed the point of the Scriptures and missed the point of what the Christ would be about. As he teaches them their conversation is so intense that when they arrive at their destination, they all but physically stop him from leaving them. Then, in the quiet interlude of the blessing, the scales drop from their eyes. They recognise Jesus, he disappears, and then they’re off, hearts burning, into the night and back to Jerusalem where it’s all excitement with everyone telling each other their story. Wow! What a beginning for the church!

If it seems that our own community pales in comparison maybe we lack an important component of the Easter story – people telling each other of their experiences. Beginning with the testimony of the women, Jesus chooses to convey the message of Resurrection, not through startling appearances and extraordinary gestures but through the testimony of people who have seen something beyond their imagining that makes sense not only of his awful execution, not only of their own experience but also of the Scriptures. The resurrected Jesus fulfils the needs of the human heart but we will only discover this by sharing with and listening to the stories of each other. If our faith seems weak maybe it is time for some vigorous discussion.

 

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

Australians love irony, much of our humour is based upon it. One thing is said, while at least one other meaning is intended for the audience in the know. An ability to work on different levels of meaning is a good quality to bring to the reading of the Gospels, especially this Sunday’s excerpt. We, the readers of this story, realise the obtuseness of the two disciples travelling to Emmaus. It is not only the identity of Jesus that they have missed but also the meaning of the events of the past days and the significance of the Scriptures. ‘But we had hoped…’ they cried without realising that their very hopes, their very limited hopes, had blinded them to the mystery taking place. They knew their own hopes…but had they wondered about God’s hopes? They admit being astounded at what the women said…and then dismissed it. Maybe Jesus had to disappear straightaway when their eyes were opened or they would have confined him yet again to their expectations, their hopes, their needs.

The drama of the two disciples is our own unless we constantly try to wonder at the richness of God’s love working in our world. In Scripture and in our lives we see God working in various ways. The one event can affect people differently in multiple different ways. If we allow our understanding of events to be determined by our hopes and needs, we simply will miss the central mystery of life: God’s love working through all events for our good, a love that can bring grace where sin abounded, hope where despair had reigned and life where death had seemed to conquer.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

This site has a number of art works on the site to Emmaus.  Scroll down past the initial text.

Francesco Bassano  seems more interested in the scene in the house with the old man resting in the centre and the women working in the kitchen.   Jesus is tuckedaway with the disciples at the back of the room. His revelation takes place within the context of normal human life.

– Caravaggio’s Supper  (1601) takes place at an inn.  The two disciples look like beggars (the models probably were).  A young confident Jesus seems to be making the simplest of gestures while having a profound effect on the two disciples.  Note how the servant seems almost bemused.  He knows something is happening but doesn’t know what it is.

– Rembrandt painted the scene of the supper   numerous times, always with an interplay of light and dark.  Another version , and here another one.

– This painting by Diego Velazquez Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus  focuses almost exclusively on this young woman – the shifting dishes being the sign that something profound has happened.  While this Supper at Emmaus is a more traditional presentation of the scene.

– Janet Brooks-Gerloff The Road to Emmaus.

 

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

The two disciples on the way to Emmaus had limited notions of how God could work in the life of Jesus.  We, too, can limit God’s presence by false or narrow expectations.

As you go through your tasks of this week, mull over different ways that God could be at work in your life.  When events happen imagine how many different ways it could work for good in the lives of the people involved.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

As you rest in that love, ask yourself what are the needs you feel dominate your life.
What are the hopes that you have:
– for yourself,
– for your family,
– for those you love.

Resting in the divine love, ask what God’s hopes are for you, your family and for those whom you love.
Do your needs, hopes, expectations clash with what you think God wants?

If they do, hold those hopes or needs before God and ask for guidance. Then let go of them and see what wisdom emerges in your life over the next few days.

Rest in the love of God.