Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE TWO TABLES


April 19th, 2017: Easter Wednesday: The Two Tables.  Luke 24:13-35.
          This best known of all the resurrection stories is also one of the most loved. The story appeals to us because it shows Jesus coming to his friends in the two ways he has always come: through word and sacrament. After Jesus’ disappearance, his two friends recall that their hearts had been “burning within us while he spoke to us ... and opened the Scriptures to us.” More than once the gospels record that “he spoke with authority,” and not like other religious teachers. (Matt. 7:29 and parallels.)
Jesus is still speaking with authority today; and our hearts too can burn within us, as we ponder his word. For that to happen, however, we must spend time alone with the Lord, in silence. The 16th century Spanish Carmelite, St. John of the Cross, says: “The Father spoke one Word, which is his Son, and this word he speaks always in eternal silence; and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”
          Though the two friends of Jesus in today’s gospel feel their hearts burning within them as they listen to the Lord’s words, they recognize him only “in the breaking of the bread” – the first post-Resurrection celebration of Mass.
          Jesus’ swift disappearance at Emmaus shows also that he did not come to these friends of his so that they could luxuriate in a great spiritual experience. He came to empower them to carry the good news of his resurrection to others. Every encounter with God in Scripture is for the sake of others.
          Let me conclude with some verses written as a meditation on the Emmaus story. They are by a monk of the Benedictine abbey in St. Louis, Fr. Ralph Wright.
Sing of one who walks beside us / And this day is living still,
          One who now is closer to us / Than the thought our hearts distill,
          One who once upon a hilltop / Raised against the power of sin,
          Died in love as his own creatures / Crucified their God and King.
 
          Strangers we have walked beside him / The long journey of the day,
          And have told him of the darkness / That has swept our hope away.
          He has offered words of comfort, / Words of energy and light,
          And our hearts have blazed within us / As he saved us from the night.
 
Stay with us, dear Lord, and raise us / Once again the night is near.
Dine with us and share your wisdom. / Free our hearts from every fear.
In the calm of each new evening, / In the freshness of each dawn,
If you hold us fast in friendship / We will never be alone.