Gospel Reflection Questions

Reflection Questions - April 30, 2017 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 12:01:00 AM

April 30, 2017

3rd Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:13-35

 

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."

 

25 And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."

 

So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 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?"

 

33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

Background:

This gospel text was one of the possible texts for Easter Sunday. It is also the gospel for the Wednesday after Easter. The importance of this text for the Church is indicated by the fact that it has been chosen to be read again this Sunday.

 

Execution by crucifixion was reserved for the most contemptuous of criminals. The early disciples were disappointed and humiliated by the fact that Jesus was crucified. Last Sunday’s gospel also suggests that they were afraid for their own safety. It should be no surprise that some of the disciples gathered behind locked doors and others fled the situation. Emmaus was a Roman spa, a place where there would be physical comfort.

 

The two that were on the road to Emmaus might have been any of many pilgrims who had been to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and were now returning home. But Luke tells us that these two were disciples. There is some reason to suspect that they were husband and wife. Missionary couples like Aguila and Priscilla were known among the early Christian community (Acts 18:2). John’s gospel mentions the wife of Clopas (possibly Cleopas) at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother and Mary of Magdala (John 19:25). Another reason to think they were a couple is that their invitation of hospitality toward Jesus, at the end of the text, seems to have been made together.

 

When Jesus joined them, he appeared to them to be a fellow pilgrim returning from the Passover celebration. They were surprised by the fact that he seemed to be unaware of Jesus’ crucifixion. The two disciples explained the events of the crucifixion, and of that Sunday morning, as they knew them. They were aware that some of the women had reported the empty tomb, and that an angel had told them that Jesus was alive. Others had verified that the tomb was empty, and they did not find Jesus, nor, apparently, did they find the angel who had appeared to the women. The two also revealed that they were among Jesus’ followers, and that they had hoped that he might be the awaited savior. They told all of this to a person who appeared to be a total stranger! At the same time, they were heading out of Jerusalem, away from the other disciples, to the Roman spa city of Emmaus.

 

From their perspective, this stranger seemed to be able to reinterpret their religious traditions in such a way that the events of Jesus’ death were the fulfillment of their tradition. Even with this new understanding of their tradition, they were continuing their journey to Emmaus, unware that the person walking with them was the risen Jesus. They did not rediscover their hope and faith in Jesus as the Messiah until Jesus accepted their invitation to join them and he broke bread with them. The format of verse 30 is the same as that of the Last supper (Luke 22:19), “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’”

 

Reflection Questions:

1.      Have you faced a life situation that was dreadful or out of control?  How did you respond?

2.      Have you ever had sense that God was walking with you? Did you have that awareness during that point of your life, or only later?

3.      Have you ever come to awareness that you had been prevented from recognizing God’s presence in your life? What were some of the things that prevented you from recognizing God’s presence?

4.      The two disciples stated that the chief priests and rulers had handed Jesus over to be crucified, but they were hoping that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. Have you ever held hopes that were at odds with the civic or religious leaders? Why would Luke include this statement in his account of the situation?

5.      How do you think the disciples who were gathered in the upper room felt about the departure of these two?

6.      On the road, the two disciples told Jesus not only what had happened in Jerusalem, but also how these events had impacted them personally. How easy is it for you to share with others your doubts, fears, and disappointments?

7.      What do you think was the emotional state of the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus? Why would Jesus want to come to these two disciples?

8.      The disciples did not recognize Jesus until the breaking of the bread. Has your participation in the Eucharist brought you to a new awareness of your relationship with God, the church, or creation?

9.      What part of this text speaks to you as you hear it today? What do you think God would like to say to you in that text?

 

 

On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx.  You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website. 

 

The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel.

 

To be added to the distribution list, send your name and email address to fr.paul.gallagher.ofm@gmail.com.

 

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Excerpts from the readings for April 30, 2017, the Third Sunday of Easter

 

Then Peter proclaimed: "All of you in Jerusalem, hear these words. Jesus the Nazarene was commended

to you by God with mighty deeds, which God worked through him in your midst, as you know.

This man you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from death,

because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,

because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see

corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

"My brothers, David died, and his tomb is in our midst. But since he knew that God would set one of his

descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was

he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. God raised this Jesus. Exalted at the

right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth."

 

 

Lord, you will show us the path of life. Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; you are my allotted

portion and my cup. I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.

I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; you will not

abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your hand forever.

 

 

Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judges according to each one's works,

conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed

from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but

with the precious blood of Christ. 

He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through

him believe in God who raised him from the dead, so that your faith and hope are in God.

 

 

Two of Jesus' disciples were going to Emmaus, and they were conversing about all that had occurred.

Jesus drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

He asked them, "What are you discussing?" Cleopas said to him, "Are you the only one who does not

know what happened to Jesus, who was a prophet, how our chief priests and rulers crucified him. We

were hoping he would redeem Israel. Some women have seen angels who announced he was alive."

He said to them, "How slow you are to believe all that the prophets spoke!" Beginning with Moses and

all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. They urged him to

stay with them. And while he was with them, he said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to them.

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he opened the Scriptures to us?"

They returned to Jerusalem where they found the eleven and those with them who were saying,

"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"  Then the two recounted what had taken

place and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

 

Excerpts from Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; and Luke 24:13-35

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