In the final Lecture of a Lenten Series given at the Parish of Saint Joseph I made reference to an extract from Matthew’s version of the Gospel {13: 13 – 17}. The question posed against this reference was twofold. Firstly –

“have we, to varying degrees, been infected with gross minds, dulled ears and closed eyes?” Secondly – “do we have that basic fact which expresses a real willingness to be surprised by God?” Well, the first question finds a link with TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 PETER 1: 17 – 21] while the second connects with THE GOSPEL [LUKE 24: 13 – 25].

Saint Peter reminds us that we “have been ransomed from futile ways …. perishable things.” Then, the Gospel clearly indicates that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost any real willingness to be surprised by God. They did not even recognise Jesus when he came up and walked with them. They were “slow of heart to believe.” In addition, as far as these two were concerned we are also able to recognise a remark made by Saint Peter in the second reading because they had no “confidence in God …. (no) faith and hope in God.”

Before going on we should be aware of a connection between last Sunday’s Gospel and this week’s record by Saint Luke. Last week the disciples were barricaded behind doors when Jesus suddenly came and stood among them. This week we find two other disciples making a journey to Emmaus. Again, without notice, “Jesus himself drew near and went with them.” The important fact in these Easter weeks is for us to learn that the Risen Lord comes to us in the different challenging circumstances of our In the final Lecture of a Lenten Series given at the Parish of Saint Joseph I made reference to an extract from Matthew’s version of the Gospel {13: 13 – 17}. The question posed against this reference was twofold. Firstly –

“have we, to varying degrees, been infected with gross minds, dulled ears and closed eyes?” Secondly – “do we have that basic fact which expresses a real willingness to be surprised by God?” Well, the first question finds a link with TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 PETER 1: 17 – 21] while the second connects with THE GOSPEL [LUKE 24: 13 – 25].

Saint Peter reminds us that we “have been ransomed from futile ways …. perishable things.” Then, the Gospel clearly indicates that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost any real willingness to be surprised by God. They did not even recognise Jesus when he came up and walked with them. They were “slow of heart to believe.” In addition, as far as these two were concerned we are also able to recognise a remark made by Saint Peter in the second reading because they had no “confidence in God …. (no) faith and hope in God.”

Before going on we should be aware of a connection between last Sunday’s Gospel and this week’s record by Saint Luke. Last week the disciples were barricaded behind doors when Jesus suddenly came and stood among them. This week we find two other disciples making a journey to Emmaus. Again, without notice, “Jesus himself drew near and went with them.” The important fact in these Easter weeks is for us to learn that the Risen Lord comes to us in the different challenging circumstances of our life and living. Sometimes we recognise his presence immediately – but at other times we fail to recognise him as he draws near and goes with us.

In this regard we need to hear and accept the words of King David as quoted for us in

THIS SUNDAYS FIRST READING [ACTS 2: 14. 22 – 33]. “I saw the Lord always before me. For he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken … my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced.” Have I developed the habit of making genuine efforts to always see the Lord before me? Am I sufficiently conscious of his constant presence at my right hand? How often do I stand up straight and am able to happily proclaim that I am not shaken in the face of profoundly difficult challenges? So back to one of our original questions – do I have the basic faith which witnesses to a real willingness to be surprised by God?

We also move backwards to the first of our original questions –

have we, to varying degrees, been infected with gross minds, dulled ears and closed eyes? Is this infection the most evident and virulent of the spiritual viruses to which we are exposed? It is the virus which Saint Peter speaks about in our second scripture …. the virus of futile ways of perishable things such as silver or gold. It is not merely a matter of materialism but of the general approach to the manner of living advocated by contemporary society – not only crime, corruption, political violence and extremism, the abuse of women and children, but making a quick turnover, disregard of what are seen as minor laws of driving, a basic neglect of any real spirituality, marital infidelity, sexual freedom, basic courtesies, good manners and the general malaise of an unwillingness to be personally inconvenienced unless there is some form of tangible ‘payback’. The list is endless. This is the society in which we live. Have I completely escaped the virus of its corrosive fingers?

If we study the Gospel reading, we will notice that the two disciples had been infected with the virus of their own society. It was the virus of the false expectation that Jesus was to restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory, power and status. “We had hoped.” In addition there was the other virus prevalent among their religious leaders that it was a lesser evil to ‘accommodate’ the existing political structure. Do you remember the High Priest’s assertion that it was “better for one man to die for the sake of the nation?” The teaching of Jesus was far too dangerous. It would upset the apple cart.

There was no longer the faith which expressed the willingness to be surprised by God. The virus enjoyed an endemic presence. Our celebration of Easter must be a powerful and effective reminder that the Risen Lord has, indeed, the power to surprise us – and our world. But it all depends on us. In the Garden of the Resurrection the Lord took Mary Magdalene by surprise – and she changed her outlook immediately. Do you remember the encounter of the disciples with the Risen Lord in the face of the miraculous catch? To begin with it was only John who recognised Jesus – “It is the Lord!” Then, Peter recognised that his Master had, once again, surprised him.

Jesus eventually surprised the two on the way to Emmaus. Like them we have to recognise him,and be willing to be surprised!

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