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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-15 Wednesday of the Octave of Easter

Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 105; Luke 24:13-35
The First Reading continues with the works of the Apostles after Pentecost. We see Peter and John walking to the Temple for the afternoon sacrifice and they came across a man lame from birth. This man was asking for alms and Peter said to him I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk. This shows us the power of the name of Jesus. It has power to heal a man who had a disease since his birth. While Peter and John gave the man more than money. They gave him the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
This is what we as Christians possess. This is our riches: Jesus himself. We see this in the Gospel today where Jesus meets two disciples who were running away from Jerusalem to a town that was eleven kilometers away. On the road, they were arguing about the events of the day when Jesus came and joined them. Luke says they did not recognize Jesus. This is the interesting point about the resurrection. It seems that after the Resurrection, Jesus is not recognized physically. He has to do something for the people to recognize him. Along the way, the two disciples told Jesus of what happened. What they said is the summary of our faith, we call the Kerygma. Yet, despite knowing the kerygma, these disciples still could not believe Jesus rose from the dead. They finally believed when Jesus broke bread with them. Luke says then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus; and he vanished from their sight.
The disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, in what he did, the night before he died. For Catholics, we break the bread at mass, and it is this moment, we fully recognize Jesus. This is why, we believe that the Bread of Life discourse of Jesus in John 6 is interpreted literally, that the bread we break at mass is the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Sad to say, these days, we cannot receive the Body and Blood of Jesus because of this pandemic. Yet, this act is still being done privately by our priests. They continue to celebrate this event and we are also united with them when they celebrate mass in private. While it is true that we cannot receive Jesus at mass, we can unite ourselves with him spiritually. Catholics believe God works through the sacraments. But in extraordinary circumstances, God works outside of the sacrament. Nothing prevents God from giving the same grace he gives when we receive the sacrament spiritually, when we cannot receive him physically.
Which is why when we watch a livestream mass or televised mass, we are invited to do a spiritual communion with Christ. And we believe, that God will give us the grace we need when we do this. Some may ask, why would you believe that? Is that even possible? We look at the Resurrection event where Jesus was able to enter a locked room and show himself to his disciples. With the Resurrection, the Body of Jesus is not bound by time and space. He enters a place as he wills and he shows himself as he will. Therefore, he gives grace as he wills.
The Resurrection makes it possible for priests to transform the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Resurrection gives the priest the power to forgive sins in confession. It is the Resurrection that gave the two disciples in the Gospel today, the courage to run back to Jerusalem at night and bring the good news. It is the Resurrection that allowed Peter and John to heal the man who was lame. It is in the Resurrection that God has given Jesus the name that is above every other name, that at his name, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The Resurrection reveals the power of the name of Jesus and it is in this name that we are saved.
The two disciples knew the Gospel message, but were discouraged, until they recognized the Risen Christ. Knowing the Resurrection story is not enough. We need to encounter the Risen Lord. Where else can we best encounter him other than in the Eucharist. While we cannot join in the celebration of the Eucharist physically, we can join virtually at our homes. Watch the mass, either livestreamed or recorded. And at the point of consecration, tell the Lord to reveal the power of his Name to you. Then as the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ, tell Jesus that you unite yourself with him.
Lord Jesus, reveal the power of your Name to me. I want to know you in your Body and Blood. Give me the grace to recognize you in the Breaking of the Bread. Give me the grace to believe, it is your Body and Blood that you give to me.

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