Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Road to Emmaus

Volume 4 No. 219 May 16, 2014

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Road to Emmaus
Road to Emmaus
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

The eyes of the disciples on the way to Emmaus opened when they ate the consecrated "bread". It transformed them. Suddenly the joy and peace returned. They had a purpose in life again. They ran back to Jerusalem with full enthusiasm to report their experience to the eleven disciples who were sitting in a locked room afraid of their lives. Yes, the Eucharist transforms us. It opens our eyes; it drives out our fears and sadness; it brings the joy and peace back into our lives. It is a powerful medicine. ...

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 18)

3. Sermons for This Sunday (May 18)

Sermons for the Third Sunday after New Sunday
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

4. Inspiration for Today: Bury Your Sorrows

5. Reflection on The Bread of Life

What did Jesus mean when He said, 'I am the Bread of Life' (John 6:35)?

6. In the Breaking of the Bread

Isn't it that very kenosis (emptying) about which Paul in Philippians 2 sang the very thing that got in the way of Cleopas and friend? Isn't that what keeps getting in the way of all of us preachers and teachers today? Isn't that what sends us reeling in our unbelief so that we go looking for comfort in repristination or re-imagining or even retrenchment? It isn't about us! ...

7. Meditation on Luke 24:35-48

Imagine the emotional roller coaster that Jesus' followers had been on in the preceding two weeks: exhilaration and anticipation after his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem; confusion at the predictions of his passion and betrayal; fear in the garden of Gethsemane; devastation and disappointment at the foot of the cross; skepticism at the women's story of an empty tomb; fragile hope as their friends said they had seen Jesus. ...

8. He Walked With Them

After his resurrection our Lord Jesus met two of his disciples along the way who were talking together about what had happened, and he said to them: "Whatever were you discussing as you walked along to make you so sad?" ...

9. Poem: Fear and Loathing on the Road to Emmaus

10. In Our Midst

They weren't looking for Jesus. They were sure he was lost forever. And then he was there with them… walking and talking, explaining scripture, opening doors to spirituality. He moved with them so easily, so unobtrusively that they did not recognize the risen Savior until he revealed himself in the breaking of the bread. ..

11. Home to Emmaus

This has long been one of my favorite pieces of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps that is because I can just picture Cleopas and the other disciple walking with their heads down, trying to make sense of all that had been theirs to see and hear, especially in those last several days. We know nothing more of them, of course. They are not part of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples -- at least we have not heard them named before now. And yet they have been close enough to these astonishing events that they know it all --- right down to the witness of the women at the tomb early that morning. Even so, they have decided not to stay behind closed doors with the others. Apparently they have seen enough and they have decided it's time to go home. ...

12. Family Special: Appreciating Each Other - Are We Taking Our Spouse for Granted?

It's easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other's strengths. ...

13. About Malankara World

Foreword

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

We have come to the Fourth Sunday after Easter in the Church Calendar. The church lectionary specifies John 6:47-58 ("I am the Bread of Life") as the reading for Sunday. The revised lectionary used by some churches use Luke 24:13-35 (Journey to Emmaus) as the reading for this Sunday. Jesus' time on earth is fast coming to a conclusion.

One the surface, these two Gospel Passages specified for this week look disconnected. However, on close examination, we will see the connection. The theme of both is the Holy Eucharist and the 'breaking of the bread' that transforms us. Yes, Jesus 'officially' instituted the Eucharist on the Last supper. But he talked about the importance of it in John 6 where we see one of the "I am" statements - "I am the Bread of Life." It is the life link between us and Jesus. (To learn more on the 'I am the Bread of Life' please refer to http://www.malankaraworld.com/newsletter/MWJ_200.htm#article13 as well as the sermons for this Sunday.) On many occasions in his public ministry, as well as after resurrection, Jesus showed us the importance of being with him through the 'living bread.' We see it at the miracles of multiplying the loaves; we see it on Last Supper; and, after resurrection, we see it at the end of the Emmaus Trip; and at the Sea of Tiberias ('Re-installation of Peter'). In all the instances, Jesus took the bread, looked at heaven, thanked God, blessed it, broke it and then gave it to the disciples and others. The 'living bread' transforms us as is evident in all these instances. After the multiplication of loaves, the people who ate the bread started following Jesus wherever he went (They were transformed.) When Judas ate the bread, Satan entered him and he went his way to chief priests as predicted by Jesus. (Yes, the bread transformed him.) At the Sea of Tiberias, Peter and the rest of disciples were transformed. They accepted the call for evangelizing the world with full heart and went on to martyrdom with full knowledge of what was in store for them. Yes, they were transformed by the 'living bread.' Early church fathers such as Tertullian, St. Cyprian, and St. Cyril understood that the "daily bread" taught by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer refers to the Eucharist.

The Emmaus Journey is very unique. It is described in the Gospel of Luke. Dr. Luke had the uncanny ability to describe human interest stories. (We read stories of annunciation to Zachariah and to Mary, Mary's Journey to Elizabeth, Magnificat, Benedictus (The Canticle of Zachariah or Zachariah's discourse at the time of birth of John the Baptist), and the encounter with Simeon and Anna at the Temple and the prophesy by Simeon, etc. etc. which give a rare look at the early childhood stories of Jesus that provide us a bridge to understand Jesus' mission and the plan of God for the redemption of fallen man.) When we read the Emmaus journey, the first question that comes to our mind is why the disciples didn't recognize Jesus. We have to understand the state of their mind. They had high hopes for Jesus redeeming them from the Romans and reinstalling the Kingdom - to them that meant kicking Romans out of Israel and reinstalling it as is used to be at the time of King David. All these dreams vanished with the crucifixion of Jesus. They were broken; disappointed; and lost all hopes for future. They were going home; to do what they did before the calling of Jesus to follow him. The last thing they expected was to see Jesus again. So, they paid no attention to the stranger who joined them as they were weeping and sharing their disappointments. It is also natural to expect that Jesus was well covered in clothes, because his body sported wounds all over from the aftermath of crucifixion. It probably was a chilly day and Jesus' head was covered also.

Their eyes opened when they ate the consecrated "bread". It transformed them. Suddenly the joy and peace returned. They had a purpose in life again. They ran back to Jerusalem with full enthusiasm to report their experience to the eleven disciples who were sitting in a locked room afraid of their lives. Yes, the Eucharist transforms us. It opens our eyes; it drives out our fears and sadness; it brings the joy and peace back into our lives. It is a powerful medicine.

Pope Benedict XVI explained the importance of the Eucharist that provides a great insight into it:

"The Eucharist is to be considered as entering into this way of God. St. Augustine says, in De Civitate Dei, book X: 'Hoc est sacrificium Christianorum: multi unum corpus in Christo,' that is, the sacrifice of Christians is to be united by the love of Christ in the unity of the one body of Christ. Sacrifice consists precisely in coming out of ourselves, in allowing ourselves to be drawn into the communion of the one bread, of the one Body, and thus to enter into the great adventure of the love of God.

Thus we should celebrate, live, meditate always on the Eucharist, as the school of liberation from my 'I': to enter into the one bread, which is bread of all, which unites us in the one Body of Christ. Hence, the Eucharist is, in itself, an act of love, which obliges us to this reality of love for others: the sacrifice of Christ is the communion of all in his Body. Hence, we must learn the Eucharist in this way, which is, precisely, the opposite of clericalism, of being shut in on oneself."

Pope Francis added:

"To celebrate the liturgy is to have the availability to enter into the mystery of God, and to entrust ourselves to this mystery.

Ask the Lord to give each of us this 'sense of the sacred,' and that to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray so many beautiful prayers, is one thing, but the Eucharistic celebration is something else.

In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power...He is everything."

Meditate on the story of Emmaus and the mystery of the "Living Bread", it will transform you too.

Brief Notes:

Cor Episcopos Geevarghesese Koorppillil, one of the early priests who served the Malankara Archdiocese in North America, completed his mission on earth and left for his eternal abode a few days ago. Achen served the church in New York area and later was in Atlanta with his daughter and son-in-law, Rev. Fr. Mathai Puthukunnathu. A memorial service was held in Atlanta on May 10, 2014 led by HG Abraham Mor Severios. The body was taken to Kothamangalam and the funeral service was held at Kothamangalam Cheriapally. We pay our humble prayers and offer our condolences to the bereaved family.

Rev Fr. Binoy Alexander

Congratulations to Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Alexander. Achen graduated today (May 16) with a Th. D. from Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Boston, MA. Achen serves as vicar of St. Ephreim Knanaya Church, Detroit, Michigan. He also serves the St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, Detroit and St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio. In spite of his busy week, that included commuting from Detroit to Boston for his doctoral studies during the week, he never showed any hesitation in driving 200 plus miles from Detroit to Cleveland to conduct services here. That is an example of exemplary service. We congratulate achen, Sreeja Kochamma and Kessia mol for this great accomplishment.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 18)

Sermons for This Sunday (May 18)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Bury Your Sorrows
Now therefore keep thy sorrow to thyself, and bear with a good courage that which hath befallen thee. -- 2 ESDRAS x. 15.

Go, bury thy sorrow,
The world hath its share;
Go, bury it deeply,
Go, hide it with care.
Go, bury thy sorrow,
Let others be blest;
Go, give them the sunshine,
And tell God the rest.

ANON.

Our veiled and terrible guest [Trouble] brings for us, if we will accept it, the boon of fortitude, patience, self-control, wisdom, sympathy, faith. If we reject that, then we find in our hands the other gift,--cowardice, weakness, isolation, despair.

If your trouble seems to have in it no other possibility of good, at least set yourself to bear it like a man. Let none of its weight come on other shoulders. Try to carry it so that no one shall even see it. Though your heart be sad within, let cheer go out from you to others. Meet them with a kindly presence, considerate words, helpful acts.
G. S. MERRIAM.

Source: Daily Strength for Daily Needs

Reflection on The Bread of Life
Question: "What did Jesus mean when He said, 'I am the Bread of Life' (John 6:35)?"

Answer: "I am the Bread of Life" (John 6:35) is one of the seven "I Am" statements of Jesus. Jesus used the same phrase "I AM" in seven declarations about Himself. In all seven, He combines I AM with tremendous metaphors which express His saving relationship toward the world. All appear in the book of John.

Bread is considered a staple food - i.e., a basic dietary item. A person can survive a long time on only bread and water. Bread is such a basic food item that it becomes synonymous for food in general. We even use the phrase "breaking bread together" to indicate the sharing of a meal with someone. Bread also plays an integral part of the Jewish Passover meal. The Jews were to eat unleavened bread during the Passover feast and then for seven days following as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt. Finally, when the Jews were wandering in the desert for 40 years, God rained down "bread from heaven" to sustain the nation (Exodus 16:4).

All of this plays into the scene being described in John 6. Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds to no avail. He had crossed the Sea of Galilee, and the crowd followed Him. After some time, Jesus inquires of Philip how they're going to feed the crowd. Philip's answer displays his "little faith" when he says they don't have enough money to give each of them the smallest morsel of food. Finally, Andrew brings to Jesus a boy who had five small loaves of bread and two fish. With that amount, Jesus miraculously fed the throng with lots of food to spare.

Afterward, Jesus and His disciples cross back to the other side of Galilee. When the crowd sees that Jesus has left, they follow Him again. Jesus takes this moment to teach them a lesson. He accuses the crowd of ignoring His miraculous signs and only following Him for the "free meal." Jesus tells them in John 6:27, "Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." In other words, they were so enthralled with the food, they were missing out on the fact that their Messiah had come. So the Jews ask Jesus for a sign that He was sent from God (as if the miraculous feeding and the walking across the water weren't enough). They tell Jesus that God gave them manna during the desert wandering. Jesus responds by telling them that they need to ask for the true bread from heaven that gives life. When they ask Jesus for this bread, Jesus startles them by saying, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."

This is a phenomenal statement!

First, by equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life.

Second, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Jesus is trying to get the Jews' thinking off of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm. He is contrasting what He brings as their Messiah with the bread He miraculously created the day before. That was physical bread that perishes. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.

Third, and very important, Jesus is making another claim to deity. This statement is the first of the "I AM" statements in John's Gospel. The phrase "I AM" is the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or YHWH), revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). The phrase speaks of self-sufficient existence (or what theologians refer to as "aseity"), which is an attribute only God possesses. It is also a phrase the Jews who were listening would have automatically understood as a claim to deity.

Fourth, notice the words "come" and "believe." This is an invitation for those listening to place their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. This invitation to come is found throughout John's Gospel. Coming to Jesus involves making a choice to forsake the world and follow Him. Believing in Jesus means placing our faith in Him that He is who He says He is, that He will do what He says He will do, and that He is the only one who can.

Fifth, there are the words "hunger and thirst." Again, it must be noted that Jesus isn't talking about alleviating physical hunger and thirst. The key is found in another statement Jesus made, back in His Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." When Jesus says those who come to Him will never hunger and those who believe in Him will never thirst, He is saying He will satisfy our hunger and thirst to be made righteous in the sight of God.

If there is anything the history of human religion tells us, it is that people seek to earn their way to heaven. This is such a basic human desire because God created us with eternity in mind. The Bible says God has placed [the desire for] eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The Bible also tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our way to heaven because we've all sinned (Romans 3:23) and the only thing our sin earns us is death (Romans 6:23). There is no one who is righteous in himself (Romans 3:10). Our dilemma is we have a desire we cannot fulfill, no matter what we do. That is where Jesus comes in. He, and He alone, can fulfill that desire in our hearts for righteousness through the Divine Transaction: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Christ died on the cross, He took the sins of mankind upon Himself and made atonement for them. When we place our faith in Him, our sins are imputed to Jesus, and His righteousness is imputed to us. Jesus satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. He is our Bread of Life.

© Copyright 2002-2014 Got Questions Ministries - All Rights Reserved.

In the Breaking of the Bread

by Samuel Zumwalt

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Retired seminary professor Hilmer Krause once described one of the high points of his days as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. While on active duty in Europe, he was given an opportunity to join a delegation that would meet with the then Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Given a chance to ask questions of the titular leader of Greek Orthodoxy, Dr. Krause asked how the Orthodox described the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The patriarch replied that he didn't understand the question. Two more times Dr. Krause asked his question using slightly different words. Only after the third question did the patriarch's eyes brighten with understanding. His response was something like: "Ah, now I see what you are asking. Isn't that just like you westerners? You want to define everything while we simply stand in awe of the mystery."

The good patriarch did capture the western penchant for attempting to impose linear thinking to our consideration of the holy mysteries. One needs only to think of the volumes that have been contributed to the western debate over what the "is" means in "This is my body." ...

Cleopas and friend were downhearted that Easter night as they traveled home. The reports of the Resurrection of Jesus had not been strong enough to overcome their profound sorrow over his horrible Crucifixion. They knew what dead meant. They knew what disappointment and discouragement meant. As they said to the mysterious stranger on the road, they had had such high hopes for Jesus, but these had been dashed by his brutal execution. Their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible precluded any further hopes for Jesus. They were bereft of everything but the grueling labors of grief. As Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote in "Margaret," it was themselves for which they were mourning.

Their companion on the road to Emmaus gently scolded their certitude. It was evident that they knew the words of Scripture but not the tune. In fact, the mystery was right before their eyes, and yet it eluded them because of their need to do a theological post-mortem. In short, as is yet our tragic flaw, it was still all about Cleopas and friend.

"Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." Doesn't that say more than they intend? Cleopas and friend are all alone as the terror of eternal night draws near. All their knowledge of Scripture, all their pious experience of Jesus has not comforted them. In fact, it has left them with the grief and hopelessness that marks the self-absorbed contemplation of mortality (Jesus' and theirs).

And yet, this stranger has by his presence strangely warmed their hearts. They do not want it to end. He has drawn them out of themselves, out of their sure and certain hopelessness despite a better than average theological education.

How surprising that the stranger assumes the role of host at supper lifting the loaf and uttering the ancient thanksgiving for daily bread. And then, he broke the loaf and distributed it to them - and they recognized Him. Then He vanished from their sight. Why couldn't we see it? We didn't we recognize Him? We were lost in ourselves - trapped in our heads - lost in our faithless certitude. While we were arguing over the "is" we missed the mysterious Who!

They raced back to find the eleven and their companions gathered together. Were they already celebrating the mystery of the Resurrection? Or were they perhaps doing their own theological post-mortem, caught up in their incipient systematic theologies, skillfully carving up the theological corpse with exegetical precision. Might the first religious phenomenologist have been leading them to make a beautiful comparison of Jesus with earlier teachers of Jewish and Greek traditions? Oh what they might have done with an on-line newsletter and a self-congratulatory website!

Cleopas and friend burst in and cannot stop saying: "The Lord has risen indeed!" Were they affirming Simon's experience of the Resurrection as if to say "Now we get it"? They tell how He has been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. They knew the Risen Jesus not from apologetics (rational arguments for the Resurrection) - not from continuing theological education - not from reading scholarly tomes on the resurrection distributed by a money-losing denominational publishing house. They knew (the Hebrew "yada") Him in the breaking of the bread. There they saw the Risen Jesus. There all the heart-warming experience of their walk to Emmaus was given a Name above every other name - the Name at which every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Isn't it that very kenosis (emptying) about which Paul in Philippians 2 sang the very thing that got in the way of Cleopas and friend? Isn't that what keeps getting in the way of all of us preachers and teachers today? Isn't that what sends us reeling in our unbelief so that we go looking for comfort in repristination or re-imagining or even retrenchment? It isn't about us!

That's what the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven know in a way that keeps eluding us. Like Cleopas and friend on the road we keep trying to solve a mystery. It's right in front of us. He is right here for us to see in the breaking of the bread. Ave, Verum Corpus! (Oh, Lord Jesus - truly present for us to taste and see!) Now we see through a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now our knowledge is incomplete (because of our unbelief). At last, we will know Him as He truly knows us!

This week I gave away two simple wooden neck crosses. The first was to a 24-year-old man who was about to be baptized. The next to a thirty-something man that also dropped by for pastoral conversation. Both were on the road with Cleopas and friend, troubled by the gathering gloom and yearning to see Jesus.

In-between each breaking of the bread, we need to be reminded that we are known and loved in all of our brokenness and in all our self-absorbed concerns. His cross reminds us of our baptism - I am His and He is mine. To grab hold of His cross in anxious moments crying "Lord, have mercy" is a palpable sign that soon He will come to us again in the breaking of the bread and soon and very soon we will be with Him forever in perpetual Light and Love and Joy!

The breaking of the bread is a mysterious gift for us - the gift of the Risen One's presence - the sharing in the divine life and love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can still rush to the assembly to gather with the people of God of every time and every place to fall in wonder, awe, and praise before the One who holds us in love and mercy forever.

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Göttinger Predigten im Internet ed. by U. Nembach, J. Neukirch

Meditation on Luke 24:35-48
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

Imagine the emotional roller coaster that Jesus' followers had been on in the preceding two weeks: exhilaration and anticipation after his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem; confusion at the predictions of his passion and betrayal; fear in the garden of Gethsemane; devastation and disappointment at the foot of the cross; skepticism at the women's story of an empty tomb; fragile hope as their friends said they had seen Jesus. Their tension was heightened; their nerves were on edge. But then Jesus himself stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you" (Luke 24:36)!

Their reaction was hardly peaceful. Startled and terrified, they shrunk back with amazement. Jesus even showed them his hands and feet, and ate in front of them to prove he was alive. Somehow it still wasn't enough. They still weren't ready to go out as witnesses until Jesus "opened their minds" and helped them understand the Scriptures about him (Luke 24:45).

This is something Jesus wants to do for you as well. Maybe you're not on an emotional roller coaster - or maybe you are, but everyone has to deal with highs and lows. Financial or physical problems may have dashed our expectations, leaving us to wonder what God is doing in us. But rather than scratch our heads in confusion, we can take a cue from today's Gospel reading. We can ask the Lord to take our understanding, limited as it is, and touch us with his word. We can meet him in Scripture and ask him to allay our fears, dispel our confusion, and convince us of his love.

Take some time, and ponder the Mass readings for today. Ask the Spirit to give you some insight into them - something that applies to your life. If a verse or section jumps out at you, write it down and contemplate it. What is he saying to you? Is he building up your knowledge of his truths? Is he offering words of comfort? Is he guiding you in an important decision you have to make? Whatever the Lord is doing, know that he is also equipping you to be his witness - just as he did for his disciples!

"Jesus, touch my heart, and shape my mind with your word! Teach me, Lord, so that I can stand firm in your truth, no matter what happens."

Source: The Word Among Us

He Walked With Them

by Saint Augustine (354-430)

Gospel: Gospel: Luke 24:31

After his resurrection our Lord Jesus met two of his disciples along the way who were talking together about what had happened, and he said to them: "Whatever were you discussing as you walked along to make you so sad?"

This Gospel passage carries a great lesson for us, if we understand it correctly. Jesus appeared, showed himself plainly before the disciples, and was not recognized. The Teacher goes with them along the way and is himself the way (Jn 14,6) but they are not yet on the true way. When Jesus meets up with them they have lost this way. When he was still with them before his Passion he had foretold everything to them: his sufferings, death, resurrection on the third day. He had told them everything. But his death had made them lose their memory...

"We had hoped," they say, "that he would redeem Israel." Really, disciples? You had hoped and now hope no longer? Yet Christ is alive and hope in you is dead? Yes, Christ is alive but the living Christ found the hearts of his disciples dead. He appeared plainly before them and they did not perceive him; he showed himself and remained hidden from them... He walks alongside them and seems to be following them, yet it is he who is guiding them. They see him but do not recognize him for, says the text, "their eyes were prevented from recognizing him"... The Lord's absence is no absence. Only believe and he whom you do not see is with you.

Poem: Fear and Loathing on the Road to Emmaus

By Richard Bryant

I'm walking beside this other man
who doesn't seem to understand,
why things have gotten out of hand.

There's no more for me to talk about!
He had missed what I had seen.

If he would not stop, I would shout!
Let me exclaim, what I felt
to watch him die.

His words could not help.

Then he asks, can he stay?
I prefer him be on his way.
We only have one loaf to share.

He offers to bless it and
it's then I start to care.

Care who was there
in our presence.

Source: Richard's Food for Thought

In Our Midst

by David Sellery

Gospel: Luke 24: 13-35

They weren't looking for Jesus. They were sure he was lost forever. And then he was there with them… walking and talking, explaining scripture, opening doors to spirituality. He moved with them so easily, so unobtrusively that they did not recognize the risen Savior until he revealed himself in the breaking of the bread.

Could this week's gospel be any clearer? The risen Christ is with us always… all through the day, in every one we meet. But too often, he goes unrecognized. He is only a Sunday presence at best… here for the breaking of the bread and then ignored in our self-absorption. That's not God's plan. We are meant to live in the risen Christ… continually, not spasmodically… actively, not abstractly.

Look around you. We are surrounded by cell phones, cable boxes, PCs, DVRs, remotes. Most indicate their active status by a glowing red light. It tells us that the device is on. It's active. It's engaged. It's ready to receive. Sometimes I wish our souls came with a little red light that tells us when it's on, when we're ready to receive. Jesus is in our midst constantly. He promises us: Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. He's here, but too often we don't see him. Our red light is off. To see Jesus, to recognize him, we need to be engaged. It's not a painful or even a particularly difficult task, but it does take practice. It takes a daily, conscious effort to connect with Christ and to stay connected throughout the day, looking for opportunities to share his love.

The formula for this is simple. It's called prayer. Part of it is spoken. But most of it is lived. Welcome-in your day with Jesus. Give him your concerns and anxieties. Share your joy with him. Ask him to help work out your resentments and to forgive your lapses. Unlike even the most advanced electronic devices, the more you are turned on to Jesus, the more you are spiritually recharged, and the brighter your light shines.

It is not enough that we are alert to Christ in our midst. It is not enough that we recognize him. It is not even enough that we look for Christ in others. We must show the world that the risen Christ lives in us, too. We must actively witness his love. Our lives must be clear proof of the Resurrection.

Significantly, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For two-thousand years the Eucharist has been our portal of Communion with the risen Christ. In it we consume in microcosm the entire mystery of the redemption… the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. In it we are joined not in a metaphorical Body of Christ, but in a palpable presence. Jesus is with us. Jesus is in us.

What are we doing today to look for him, to see him, to recognize him… to welcome him? For many, these are the questions that define our lives. They are built reflexively into our day. For others they are unfamiliar, awkward, uncomfortable. But for all of us, there is one simple constant: Jesus is in our midst. What are we going to do about it? True to the Father and true to the promises he has made, we need only to look for him. We need only engage. He is in our midst… in love, in peace, in power… only a prayer away.

God love you!

Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Most Merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
help us this day and everyday to see Thee more clearly,
to follow Thee more nearly, to love Thee more dearly,
for Thy Name's sake. Amen.

Copyright © 2014 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

Home to Emmaus

by Dr. Janet H. Hunt

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

This has long been one of my favorite pieces of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps that is because I can just picture Cleopas and the other disciple walking with their heads down, trying to make sense of all that had been theirs to see and hear, especially in those last several days. We know nothing more of them, of course. They are not part of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples -- at least we have not heard them named before now. And yet they have been close enough to these astonishing events that they know it all --- right down to the witness of the women at the tomb early that morning. Even so, they have decided not to stay behind closed doors with the others. Apparently they have seen enough and they have decided it's time to go home.

I get that. Indeed, as I was thinking through this story again in these last days I was taken back to a journey I took a long time ago. One that held some things in common with the walk these disciples found themselves on.

I was twenty-two years old --- a senior in college. It was early May and I was wrapping up my time in that place which had been gift and delight to me for four years. The call came that our beloved cousin, Susan, had died after a courageous battle with cancer. She was just shy of thirty years old. And so early in the morning in the middle of the week my sister and I drove from Iowa to Wisconsin for her funeral. We turned around and drove back that night so as to only miss one day of class.

Only my heart wasn't there on that college campus which had been my home for four years. And so on Friday afternoon, we packed up our things again and we drove home to Illinois for the week-end. Home were we had grown up. Home where my folks still lived. Home to the safest place in all the world. For you see, there was simply nowhere else I wanted to be, no place else I needed to be then.

Looking back I know that was because with that death, the world no longer looked the same to me. Oh, I had experienced losses before, but none like this. None that so clearly and painfully brought home the reality that sometimes terrible things happen to those who seem to deserve them least. That not all deaths are good ones. And that sometimes, some regrets never really go away. For time, at least here among us, can run out. Which it had for me. For it is so that, in my busyness that year, through the worst of her illness, I never went to see her.

So yes, I have a window into the walk that Cleopas and his traveling companion shared that first Easter day. Their world had also been turned upside down. And not only once of course for nothing was ever to be the same again when they left their lives behind to follow Jesus in the first place. And now it's turned over again. Having followed him all the way to Jerusalem, they've seen it all come to a horrific end. Indeed, we can be certain that their walk home was marked by grief and confusion. And yes, I do expect that they, like the other disciples, were now also living with a sense of regret for all they did not do that they could have, should have done. As they make their way towards home they are left only with their memory and every trudging step this must have caused them pain. Even though they, too had heard the outrageous rumor that Jesus was not dead after all, they were still going home. Back to the familiar, the safe, the comfortable. Back to people who knew and loved them before their worlds had turned upside down.

Only while perhaps all they wanted to do was go home, home is clearly not where they were meant to be. Indeed, even as this part of the story begins, it is evident that while they may have left Jerusalem behind, what they had seen and heard there wasn't leaving them. Even while they are making their way towards home, they are pursued by their still raw memories and pretty soon it is clear that they are also pursued by Jesus himself. Even though they don't know it yet.

Of course, before the night was done, they would know exactly who it was who walked them home. And before that night was past, they will have retraced their steps all the way back to Jerusalem. Only this time they run --- eager as they are to share what they have seen and heard!

A long time ago I took the sort of journey those disciples did as they walked to Emmaus. I know what it is to only want to be home. To gather with others who knew the loss I had known and to find the start of healing among them in that safe and familiar place. I expect that as they made their way, Cleopas and his companion expected the same. Only it was not to be. Indeed, their healing and hope was theirs to be found in the very place they had just left behind. Among others who had walked the same path, who had followed the same hope, who shared the same regrets, and who had staked their lives and their hearts on the life of Jesus. Their home was no longer in Emmaus. Their home was wherever it was they would meet Jesus next. And that could be anywhere.

Now I have to say that more than thirty years ago, we did not meet Jesus on the highway as we drove home late on a Friday night in May. Not the way these disciples did. And yet, I expect we did meet him in the companionship and tears and laughter we shared with one another as the miles passed. And yes, I expect we did encounter Jesus as together we recalled a life marked by both joy and struggle --- a life which had been shaped and grounded in faith. And, to be sure, I expect we did meet Jesus as we were gathered in and cared for and fed before we were sent on our way again back to the lives we were meant to live from there on out. I knew those were true even then.

But this is what came to me later. As I looked back I could see that, in fact, my heart was burning within me even then as I received gifts I would turn to again and again and again. For in the years since I have realized that I have met Jesus over and over again when the next time and the time after that came and I remembered how important it is to go when called: for time can, indeed, run out in this life. Oh, I have met Jesus over and over again when I have walked into pain instead of coming up with a convenient excuse to avoid it altogether: as I'm afraid I did so long ago. As Jesus did.

And surely I have met him, also, whenever I have experienced the forgiveness of others when I have failed to do and be all that I should. Indeed, this was so even the day of Susan's funeral so long ago. This is how I remember it. We pulled up to the church and found our way in. Her now too thin body lay there in the casket in the narthex --- her head wrapped in a scarf. I was simply overcome. And as my tears of grief and fear and yes, regret fell, my cousin, her brother, Marty came up beside me and speaking gently he said, 'She loved you, you know.' It was a moment of pure grace which I will never forget. Yes, Jesus was there in that and every time like it since.

And yes, I have met Jesus, too, whenever we gather at the table as Cleopas and his traveling companion did so long ago. I meet Jesus again whenever I speak words recalling all the "choirs of angels" who join us when we break the bread and pour the wine. For I know that Susan and so very many like her are among them. And I meet Jesus again when I hear and repeat the promise that the promises of forgiveness and life are 'for you and for you and for you.' And as they are repeated back to me as well. As it was so long ago when I stood weeping at her casket. Oh yes, as Jesus was known then in the breaking of the bread, he still is. Every single time. He always is.

Like Cleopas and the other disciple, have you ever walked a road to Emmaus? What do you recall about the journey?

Did you meet Jesus on the way? How was this so?

As you look back, can you recognize now how your heart was 'burning within you?' What do you know now that you did not quite know then? How has it changed your life, your living?

Source: Dancing with the Word

Family Special: Appreciating Each Other - Are We Taking Our Spouse for Granted?

by Valerie Van Kooten

Scripture: Luke 24:1–35

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:31

My friend and her husband had been married for a few years, and though she still loved him dearly, the humdrum of day-to-day living had lulled her into taking him for granted. Sure, he was loving, steady and dependable, but the romance was gone.

Then at a yearly awards banquet at her husband's company, my friend was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the accolades heaped on her husband. Superiors spoke of him in glowing terms. Coworkers gushed about what a great guy he was. Even the custodian made a point of telling her what a likable man her husband was.

My friend found herself swelling with pride - and a little shame - wondering why she hadn't noticed this side of her husband. Did he act differently at work, or was she just not seeing what had been there the whole time?

Cleopas and his friend, who were walking to Emmaus two days after Jesus was crucified and buried, had a bit of the same problem. To be sure, they were depressed, tired and drained from what had happened in Jerusalem. A great teacher who had promised so much had been arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. Now his body was missing. Certainly they were not expecting that the man who joined them on the road was that very man - Jesus.

They didn't acknowledge Jesus as Messiah either - likely because they were disillusioned that the one they had expected to deliver their nation from Roman rule was now dead. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people," they said of Jesus (Luke 24:19). But they didn't have a clue that he was Savior of the world.

As we read this, we want to cry out, "How could you not see Jesus as Messiah after all the wonderful things he did? And how could you not recognize him as he explained the Scriptures to you and your hearts burned within you?" (see verse 32) But until they broke bread with Jesus and the Spirit of God opened their eyes, these men were blind to Jesus' true identity.

Isn't that the case with many of us today, in both marriage and our walk with Christ? Seeing Jesus as a living, vibrant presence in our lives comes before anything else, of course. Only when our eyes are focused on him as our Savior can we begin to truly appreciate a spouse who also believes in Christ. When we study the gracious attitudes and actions that Christ pours out on his church - loving, caring, cherishing, submitting even to death - we ask ourselves, "How does my spouse show these same attributes to me and to others? Have I shown appreciation for those Christlike qualities being lived out in him? Am I being Christlike to him?"

It's easy to become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize the qualities and gifts of the person who is closest to us in life. In becoming blind to those attributes, however, we miss some great opportunities to build on each other's strengths.

Let's pray for open eyes before sickness, loss, separation - or accolades from others - force us to pay attention.

Let's Talk

What attributes in each other have we sometimes taken for granted that others have helped us see?
What qualities of Christ do I see working in you?
What are some ways we can keep our eyes open, keeping Christ the central focus of our marriage?

Source: NIV Couples Devotional

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