Week of 15 April, 2020

To encounter mercy we need to encounter a person, Jesus of Nazareth. We would not know what mercy is, if it were not for the encounter with the forgiving and compassionate glance with which God came to meet us in Jesus Christ.

~ Pope Francis ~

The extraordinary changes that take place in the disciples when they encounter the risen Lord are often cited as proof of the resurrection. Timid and fearful people are transformed into bold witnesses. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter confidently tells a lame man to walk. Notice how Peter makes it clear that it is in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that he speaks, lest anyone think that it is Peter’s own power. We ought to contrast the boldness of Peter today with the Peter who ran away filled with fear just a few days ago. The resurrection of Jesus has changed Peter!

 

In the Gospel two downcast and depressed disciples bemoan their fate in life. They are disappointed, maybe even depressed, about what has happened in their lives. Then Jesus, whom they do not recognise, comes to walk with them. Despite all that he says they still do not recognise him. After a long walk and discussion they decide to settle down for the night and press Jesus, the stranger, to stay with them because “the day is spent”. At table they recognise him and an extraordinary change takes place: they are filled with an exuberant joy and, at that moment, retrace their journey so that they can go and tell others about their encounter with Jesus. Notice the change in pace – downcast and plodding before they know its Jesus to a speedily return to Jerusalem after they recognise him. They are changed men. They have good news to tell the other disciples. Notice too how the news they have draws them back from their isolation to being united with their companions.

 

Over and over again, in this Easter Season, we will see the disciples confidently proclaim the risen Christ. Besides their proclamation notice too the signs of resurrection in their lives: their infectious enthusiasm, how they cannot be stopped (even when faced with great opposition or death), and how they live what they preach and are credible witnesses to Jesus Christ. Notice too the authority that God has given them to heal and restore what has been lost.

 

We too, in this Easter Season, are invited to live the resurrection with enthusiasm and passion. Our encounter with the risen Lord – in our communal liturgies, conversations with others and Jesus himself – will hopefully bring about extraordinary changes in us. We might ask: “In what ways is the resurrection been made manifest in my life this week?”

 

One way of living the resurrection is to pay special attention to how merciful and inclusive we are. The two disciples leave Emmaus to re-join their community. Peter mercifully restores the lame man’s mobility.  Can we live the resurrection by helping others find their way back into our faith communities and, in great mercy, include them? Our lives must be signs of the risen Christ in the world. God has intervened in our lives and now works through us to offer others resurrection.

 

 

Lord Jesus, Your resurrection changed the course of human history. Help me to journey on the course you have set. May signs of your resurrection abound in my life as I seek to be merciful and inclusive. Amen.

 

Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Matthew manages the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and is involved in the Spirituality work whilst completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and is also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
See more from Matthew Charlesworth SJ

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