Life after Epiphany


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Did not our hearts burn as He talked to us on the road? An Eastertide Scripture reflection

This beautiful Emmaus Painting can be purchased as a print from the original artist, who has other work for sale also: http://www.emmauspainting.com/

I LOVE the Emmaus pericope.

Our human experience is so often characterized by our confusion at what is happening to us and around us. We get preoccupied with trying to make sense of it all and without our recognizing it, Jesus draws near.

How often we are oblivious to His presence!

Nevertheless, Jesus walks with us. He is present to us in our pain and confusion. Perhaps He is silent sometimes – but He is there.

Verse 16 tells us that the eyes of Cleopas and his companion (Luke himself?) were kept from recognizing Christ. I wonder if God doesn’t do this sometimes to help us see our need for Him, to help us desire Him more? Just like the lover in the Song of Songs, whose relationship with His beloved is characterized by alternating periods of presence and absence… yet even when He is absent, He leaves behind his fragrance, the rememberance of Him… is He ever TRULY absent?

The question He asks next seems indicative of an invitation to prayer. Jesus knows the answer to the question He asks – He is the Risen Lord, after all! He asks the question to prompt a conversation. Jesus wants us to bring our troubles to Him, even though He already knows about them. He helps us to reflect thoughtfully… and then He asks us to listen to Him.

The thoughtful reflection is important, but the crucial step is the listening, for it is then that our hearts burn. We are made for union with God. God is our ultimate end, our absolute good. It makes sense that as we listen to Him, something inside us starts to sing. “Only the lover sings” as Josef Pieper would say! Yes – something inside us starts to sing, and our deepest desires are revealed to us. The Lord knows our desires – but do we? Really?

The journey on earth is long and arduous at times, and it would perhaps be cruel if the Lord were to heighten our desires but never to satiate them. Whilst our desire for fullness of union with God, and the ability to see Him as He is, can never be realized until the next life, we can receive a foretaste of this union at the Mass, our portal as it were into the heavenly banquet, the wedding feast of the Lamb.

This very account is the Scriptural basis for the structure of the Mass. The Mass consists of a celebration of the Word where we allow the Lord to speak to us through Scripture, and the priest in his homily seeks to help us understand the Gospel message by explaining the Scriptures in the broader context of Salvation History such that we can see how it points to Christ. Then we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, a representation (in the Hebrew understanding) of the once and for all Paschal Sacrifice. Time and space diminish in their relevance – all of the angels and saints are truly present at each Mass, where heaven is united with earth, and it is NOT a repetition of the Sacrifice that transpires – rather it is the very same Sacrifice – we become mysteriously present at Calvary.

It is here, in this place, during the breaking of the bread, that we are able to recognize the Lord and understand what He has spoken to us.

“O Sacred Banquet – in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is recalled and the pledge of future glory is given to us!” – St. Thomas Aquinas

Do you desire intimacy with Christ?
Come to Mass and meet Him there!

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Genesis + Song of Songs = What I learned about nakedness, honesty, intimacy with the Lord

Too often, I am hiding.

Too often, little truths about myself are too frightening to face, let alone to share with anyone else. Irrationally, I suppose, I try to hide even from the Omnipotent One, from He who knows everything about me (Ps 139:1-5), from He who beheld me before I was formed (Ps 139:16).

A little bit like in the garden, really. Hiding in shame (Gen 3:8).

He calls to me:

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice” (Cant 2:14)

An ancient tradition in the Church interprets the cleft in the rock as symbolic of the wounded side of Christ (Arminjon 176). As the I nestle further and further into my hiding hole, I am actually moving more deeply into the very Heart from whom I am hiding! In my fear and in my pain, I struggle against His embrace – He holds me all the more firmly, yet gently.

As He calls to me, He is inviting me back to the garden. He is inviting me back to that original innocence where I could be naked before Him without shame.

In a moment of honesty before the Lord the other day, mid-genuflection, I wept unexpectedly and uncontrollably. I still don’t completely know exactly what passed between us… but I do know that He doesn’t want me to fear Him seeing me as I am, as He created me – before I felt the need to hide.

As You draw me more deeply into Your Sacred Heart, O Lord, let me be bathed in the Water and the Blood that poured forth as a fountain of mercy for the world.
– – – –

CITED: Arminjon, Blaise. The Cantata of Love. trans. Nelly Marans. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 1988.
THIS IS AN AWESOME BOOK, BTW!!