Thursday, May 5, 2011

Surprised by hope

Guilded bronze panel by Tom McAnulty from the Archabbey Church altar.
The altar, with 17 bronze panels on each of its four sides focusing on themes
in the life of Christ, is modeled after the altar in the Royal Cathedral

of Charlemagne in Aachen, Germany, built in the 9th Century.

Sunday, May 8, 2011
Third Sunday of Easter —A

Acts 2:14, 22-33
1Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

In the current issue of America magazine, Dominican sister and New Testament professor Barbara E. Reid, O.P., writes insightfully about today’s Gospel as a metaphor for the Christian virtue of hope. To illustrate her point, she quotes Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic:
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well
but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Similarly, the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1) famously connects hope to the virtue of faith:
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
The disciples on their way to Emmaus in today’s Gospel are unseeing. Things have not turned out well in their eyes. They are uncertain, unconvinced--downcast, St. Luke tells us. They are walking away from Jerusalem, the city which just a week previous held so much promise for them, so much hope. “We were hoping…,” they tell the stranger who appears at their side along the way.

They—just like us—are in need of the assurance that faith provides. The stranger listens. He understands. He journeys with them, interprets their doubts in the light of Scripture, and then stays with them, joins them at table. As he takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, and gives it to them, their eyes are opened.

It is Jesus!

Now they are certain, convinced, joyful. Hearts burning within them, by faith they head back to Jerusalem, the city of hope, to share the good news.

These two disciples represent all Christians, then and now. We are a pilgrim people, sojourning, as the First Letter of Saint Peter says. We are living in temporary exile from our true home, the heavenly Jerusalem, for which we strive by faith, in hope, and through the love burning within us.

Our encounter with the Risen Christ along the way is the source of our faith, hope, and love. He is all that makes sense, regardless of how anything else appears to turn out. Jesus transforms our doubt into faith. He is never absent. He makes himself present to us in Word and Sacrament during this time of our sojourning. He enlightens us, feeds us, and brings us together in his name.

Stay with us, Lord!

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