Friday, May 6, 2011

Third Sunday of Easter(Mother's Day) Reflections - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Third Sunday of Easter A: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; 1 Pet 1:17-21 and Luke 24:13-35

When do we recognize the role of Christ in our lives?

Today we celebrate mother’s day (in the USA) yet the lessons from the scriptures have the same nourishment for all of us. It addresses not only the Paschal Mysteries of Christ and his saving events, but also highlight the faith struggles of his disciples: Peter, Cleopas and his companion, the Eleven and those women and mothers who not only stood at the foot of the divine cross but were the first at the empty to recognize the truth and the redeeming effects of the resurrection of Christ. When and where do we recognize the redeeming power of Christ in our lives?  Is it in our moms, children, dad, in the poor and needy, in our neighbors, in songs we join to sing during worship, in the Eucharist we share or in the sermons we listen to? There are several opportunities for us to encounter Christ.

Peter whom we saw delivering a Pentecost Speech in today’s first reading (Acts 2:14, 22-33) and preaching the redeeming blood of Jesus in the Second reading 1 Peter 1:17-21, was the foremost Disciples of Christ. Initially, he had his own doubts; he had his own ups and downs. Once Peter was violent at another time he denied his Master many times but today we see the courageous and the convincing Peter witnessing and proclaiming faith in the truth of the Risen Lord.

These are not ordinary passages of rhetoric but an enduring testimony to Christ’s Events- his love for us, the miracles he worked and the healing compassion he brought us.  It is a recognition of the Power of God and the truth that the tomb was never, from day one, going to be the final destination of Christ. It was never going to be possible for Christ to be held by death. In Peter’s life I personally learn to see how God can change us and move things around in our lives. Unlike the “denying Peter” during the Passion Week he has become a courageous and preaching disciple, using every opportunity to bear witness to Christ. Do I explore every opportunity in my life to bear witness to Christ or to recognize His enduring presence by my side?

Apart from Peter, the conversation of Cleopas with his companion from Jerusalem to Emmaus indicates the faith struggle of the Jewish community and of course fears, sadness and doubts of the Disciples of Christ on the Messianic and redeeming presence of Jesus. We do all have our own conversations!
 But who was this other disciple that Cleoplas traveled with? The name is not mentioned in Luke, but many theologians and spiritual authors thought she was "Mary the wife of Cleopas" mentioned in John chapter 19:25.

For me this make sense within the context of our "mother's day celebration." For our men and children think of where we would have been or sometimes how difficult our journeys would have been without the support of our mothers or your wives.  How successful would have been in your business or in your career without the support of your wife, your sister or your mom?   You really want to talk to your wife, your sister and your mom. Respect and consult them when you are taking those family or important decisions as fellow pilgrims of faith and know that Jesus will always be there with you and for you. You have to strife to recognize Jesus in one another!

He was there for a long walk alongside Cleopas and his fellow traveler un recognized until  the breaking of the Word of God and the breaking of the bread, two key things we do when we gather here to worship: the celebration of the Word of God and the breaking of the Bread- the Holy Eucharist. Scriptures that Christ himself explains from Moses to the Prophets- changes and transforms the mind set of Cleopas and his friend. It changes their uncertainties to certainties.  It calms their fears and restores their hope in Christ the prophet. He is a true redeemer and a peaceful Messiah. He has come not to fight his enemies and opponents with weapons and ammunition but with love, peace, and forgiveness.

The Eucharist we  break and the bible lessons we share, the first reading, the second, the Psalms and Gospels  remain always great moments   for us to encounter the Risen Christ and  have our faith, hope nourished and restored, after the examples of Cleopas and his traveling friend.

The faith journeys of each and every one of us can always be seen not only in the light of Peter and the Eleven but in the light of  "Emmaus walk" of Cleopas and his  companion. And we want to cease every opportunity in our life's' journeys to recognize and feel the presence of God on our sides; Jesus during meals, Jesus at Mass, Jesus as we read the Bible, Jesus as we pay attention to the sermons, Jesus on our sick beds, Jesus in “bad times” and in “good times”, Jesus in the poor and in the rich; Jesus at home, at church, work places and at schools; Jesus in our children, in our priests, in our parents- dads and moms and Jesus in our neighbors.
 Peace be with you!