Friday, 20 April 2012

To believe... or not... (Part 1)

During Easter week the gospel passage of the disciples on the read to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). In this passage two of the disciples leave Jerusalem as soon as the sabbath was over which was Easter Sunday.

On the road they meet Jesus but don't recognize Him and they explain their disappointment with the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. But then Jesus says to them "You foolish men! So slow to belief the full message of the prophets!", and He explains the scriptures to them while they walk their way.

Last Sunday we heard the passage in which Thomas did not belief that Jesus was risen, even though the other disciples had seen Him and were witnesses. He would only belief when he would see Jesus himself, and said "unless I see the holes that the nails are in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe."
This week we read the Gospel  passage following the story of the disciples going to Emmaus (Lk 24:35-48). It shows the same reluctance of the disciples to accept it really was Jesus. Why is it so hard to believe?

But there is something striking about these passages. But there is a common tread as the two disciples who ran away from Jerusalem recognized Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread. It is in the encounter with the real presence, the communion with the Risen Christ, that recognition comes. And the same with Thomas when he saw Jesus eight days later, and the disciples int his weeks Gospel who are dumbstruck with joy. This is the effect the encounter with the Lord should have. When we read the Acts of the Apostles it is  clear that there is suddenly a confidence among the Apostles which is startling when they stand up to the crowd and proclaim the Good News after Pentecost.

But I want to go back for the moment to the difficulty of believing. Nowadays it seems that to belief in God is something old fashion, something of times passed. From the above passages it is possible even to argue that the disciples who had seen Jesus before His crucifixion didn't even believe it was Him. So why would we belief in such a thing now when we cannot even see Him physically?

But the reason we can belief is exactly for the same reason that all these men DID belief after they recognized Jesus for who He was. They might not have made the connection straight away, but once they opened their heart they did.

It is easy to remain in unbelief, not to belief what is said about Jesus but to maintain only to belief when I can see for myself. We don't know if Thomas actually ever put his finger into the side of Jesus. Possible the shear encounter with the Risen Christ might have been enough to recognize Him, and to recognize him not only in his humanity, as the Jesus whom they knew, but to proclaim "My Lord and my God!"

For us it is possible too to encounter Jesus. Maybe not physically as two thousand years ago, no, but that in itself did not convert the two disciples on the road to Emmaus! No, it was in the encounter with Jesus in the breaking of the bread! 

God is waiting for us, God is walking with us on the road, but most of the time we don't recognize Him. He has given us the scriptures, and He has sent the Holy Spirit specifically to help to understand, but a lot of the time we are still deaf to the call. It is a pity, because it is a very interesting, if not exciting journey! Even if it is just from a scientific, or historical point of view! 

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