Lectionary Cycle A, Reflections on Mass Readings — April 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

The Love of God and Our Response to His Love (First Things)

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Today’s Gospel Reading at the Sunday Mass comes from Luke 24:35-48:

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

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As the two disciples who were previously on their way to Emmaus were recounting to the others “what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread,” Jesus appeared in their midst and began to resolve some of their concerns and fears. One of the most interesting contrasts between these two visits of Jesus to the disciples is that in the former story the text says that “And it happened that, 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, but he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). In the latter story the text tells us that while He was with them “He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

Both of these encounters with Jesus are elements of the Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass. In first encounter we see the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where Jesus comes and reveals Himself (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) to us as the consecrated Bread and Wine – “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him . . .” In the second encounter we see the first part of Mass – the Liturgy of the Word, when the Scriptures are read and our minds are drawn into Divine truths; just as Jesus did with the disciples – “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

The Divine truths that these Gospels readings are opening our minds up to is that when we recognize the presence of the Christ Jesus, whether in person, as the Holy Eucharist, through sacred Scripture, or in each other, grace allows us to be moved from being closed to being open to what He has come to do in our life. The love of God turns us around – turns our whole self – mind, body, and soul, completely around. The love of God is so powerful and His presence so pervasive that it even moved a devout Jew like Thomas to utter the most profound thing that a Jew could ever say when He realized that Jesus had truly risen – He said, “My Adonia and my YHWH!” (John 20:28)

Ever since my encounter with Christ Jesus in the county jail, when I was in the process of committing suicide and He came to me and told me, “I love you. I am here”; I have made it my life mission to share that story – how God saved my life when I deserved death. I’ve written articles and sections about it in my books about it, I’ve spoken about it on radio and television, I’ve put His words on the back of my business cards, and I always look for opportunities to witness about it in person; but yesterday the priest said something profound to me at Confession. First he said, “You have to always remember Jesus loves you”, and in my head I was like ‘duh’ – I know that, but then he went on to say, “If you keep that in your mind at all times, you will begin to be always drawn to respond to that love as you ought.”

Indeed, there are only two things in the spiritual life; there is the love of God and there is our response to God’s love. The first duty of our short life here on earth is to become consistent in responding to God’s love as we ought, and we do that by continually working on building a closer personal and communal relationship with Jesus; through prayer, the Sacraments, and giving ourselves to the building up the Body of Christ. Always keep in your mind that Jesus loves you!
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PRAYER OF LOVING RESPONSE
“Lord God, I know if I seek first your Kingdom
and your righteousness in every aspect of my life,
all other things will fall into order.
Therefore, pour on me your grace so that my
mind, heart, body, and soul will always be
open and responsive to your love.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”

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Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
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