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Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

My dear encountered couples:

The two disciples were trying to figure things out. They were heading home to the village of Emmaus and were discussing all that had happened to Jesus in Jerusalem. They just couldn’t understand any of it. Why did Jesus, whom they hoped was the Messiah, have to suffer and die? And what about this rumor of his rising? They were totally confused.

The one line in the gospel that gets my attention is Luke 24:17: “They (two disciples) stopped, looking downcast.” In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, our global society has ground to a halt. Thousands have died; millions are sick; billions are sheltering in their own upper rooms. Churches are shuttered, and this during the holiest week of the Christian year. At this remarkable moment in human history, we are all looking downcast, and for good reason.

Jesus’ resurrection does not eliminate pandemics, nor suffering, nor the needy lying at the “Beautiful Gates” of our own homes and churches. What the resurrection should do, however, is give us the grace to discern and the courage to respond.

Following Peter and John, how are we called to assist those who are crippled today, those locked down in their homes? Like the Emmaus disciples, how are we called to extend hospitality to our families, our neighbors, and even the strangers in our midst?

In the time of COVID-19, answers to these questions will require careful discernment; we may find our hearts “burning within us” in a desire to do more. But we trust that small acts of outreach and healing open space for God’s transforming spirit to rush in. Whether in our homes, our neighborhoods, or our virtual villages, may Christ be revealed to us this Easter season in the breaking of the bread.

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