Reflection on the Daily Readings for 4/26/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Third Sun. after Easter. Acts 3:13-15,17-19. Psalm 4:18.104.22.168-9.
I John 2:1-5. Luke 24:35-48. Lectionary # 48:
Contrasts are important in our learning experiences of everyday life.
There are such contrasts in our life of faith. We have seen this in the
Resurrection narratives. Jesus is risen and is alive in a new and better
way, but his apostles and friends, at first, are in great doubt and even in
despair about his death. They have a difficult time in transforming their
own historical experiences with him into this new way of seeing him after
the Resurrection. There are a few breakthroughs seen in the Beloved
Disciple and even in St. Paul’s personal account of his experience with the
Lord, but for the most part they doubted and were afraid. Today the
contrast that we face with these readings are the contrast of Resurrection
and Repentance or Renewal. All of our readings seem to have the theme of
repentance in one or the other of its verses. We easily see this in the
last part of the Emmaus excerpt that we have in today’s Gospel.
The Emmaus story is being brought to its conclusion. Cleopas and the
unnamed companion are returning to Jerusalem where the Jesus story began
some thirty years ago as we saw in the Infancy Narrative of Luke. Luke now
is bringing the disciples back to Jerusalem and will have all of his
Resurrection Narrative centered on Jerusalem not in Galilee as we see even
in John and certainly in Mark and Matthew. For Luke, Jerusalem not Rome is
the center of his Christological perspective of who Jesus is. The center of
Jerusalem is the Temple as we recall the story of the priest named Zachary,
the husband of Elizabeth. The Gospel ends in Jerusalem and in the Temple
where after the Resurrection the apostles, disciples, and friends of Jesus
praise God. They will soon be in an upper room there in Jerusalem awaiting
the great promise of Jesus, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
Starting points, finishing points, turning points are part of our
journey with Jesus to and from Jerusalem. Luke loves the journey theme and
uses it to tell who Jesus is and how we are to be disciples. His is the
longest such theme as we see in Luke 9:51-19:27! From Jerusalem the
mission of the Church will continue the journey with their departure from
the upper room. Luke maps out for us the journey from Jerusalem as our
starting point in his theme of discipleship and also his point of departure
for the mission of Jesus in the world after his resurrection.
Turning to the Lord is another way of speaking about repentance,
forgiveness, reconciliation with God, with others, and with self as we
journey with Jesus. We know of “Metanoia” retreats where people are led to
return to God. It is a Greek word that means to have a change of heart and
mind, but mostly our mindset, our attitudes and dispositions are implied.
In Hebrew there is a word that is more earthy and physical for turning or
returning. Teshuvah literally means “retrurn” but biblically it denotes
repentance. “Teshuvah is the foundation of Jewish morality. Prophets and
rabbis have forever come back to the image of a “return to God–a return
from what is surely just a temporary estrangement.” The apostles were
temporarily unconvinced about Jesus resurrection. They eventually have a
change of heart and their sins of despair and deep doubting are forgiven.
The journey continues and Luke maps it out for us both in the Gospel and in
Acts. Martin Buber tells us, ” Teshuvah, return, is the name given to the
act of decision in its ultimate intensification; it denotes the decisive
turning point in one’s life, the renewing, the total reversal in the normal
course of one’s existence.” It calls for a “now” return to the Lord. An
advertisement in a synagogue magazine reads: “Do Teshuvah now and avoid the
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) rush!”
We all need to stop heading toward Emmaus and break up the marathon
we were heading on. We need to return to Jerusalem spiritually (where
everyone is a Semite). It is here that we learn again who Jesus is “for
the first time” since it is he who on that journey opened the Scriptures to
us–the whole of them, Psalms, Torah, Prophets (thus he is certainly united
with the Pharisees). We are called to return our hearts, minds, our body
and soul to the Lord. This is what the contrast of Resurrection and
Repentance are all about. We leave our Emmaus journey behind us and return
with Jesus to Jerusalem where we will recognize him in the “breaking of the
N.B. The Jewish examples are found in a delightful book called the “Joys of
Hebrew” written by Lewis Glinert.(p.243).