Sharing in Jesus' New Life
Opening Question: Have you ever felt free? Why did you feel free?
First Reading: Acts 2:14,22-28
Friday Afternoon. The bell rang and Josh ran out the classroom door. He felt free! "No homework!" Josh shouted as he jumped on his bike and rode for home.
Home at last. Josh went into the living room, threw himself on to the couch, and turned on the television. After 20 minutes of changing channels, Josh was bored. Nothing on TV. So, Josh went to the phone and began to call his friends. "Are you free to play?" Josh asked his friends, one by one.
Finally, his friend Charlie said he could play at the skating park. Josh quickly put on his gear and rode his skateboard to the park. As he passed by the fence , a sign spelled out the rules for the park. "Helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads must be worn at all times. Everyone must skate from left to right." All the skaters knew that if they did not follow the rules, they would not be free to use the park. Josh and Charlie followed the rules, because they loved the skating park.
On Friday, Josh was free from school, free to play with a friend, and could use the skating park for free. Free from something, free to do something, use something for free. Those are some of the ways we use the word "free."
Jesus freed people from something, sickness. He showed everyone God worked through him. Jesus allowed people the freedom to do something, to kill him. He showed he obeyed God. God freed Jesus from something else, death, and allowed Jesus to live forever. Jesus freely gives us something, his risen life. Of course, there are rules to his new life, we must freely share it with others.
Bridging Question: How does Jesus show us he is risen?
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
On the day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers were walking to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. Along the way, they talked to each other about the death of Jesus. As they discussed what happened, Jesus caught up and walked with them. But the two didn't recognize him.
"What were you just talking about?" Jesus asked them.
The two stood there looking sad. Then, one of them named Cleopas answered, "Were you the only person to visit Jerusalem who didn't know what happened a few days ago?"
"What?" Jesus replied.
"There was a man named Jesus of Nazareth," they said. "He was a prophet who spoke powerful words and performed great miracles. God and all the people really liked what he did. We were hoping he was the one to save Israel! But, the chief priests in the Temple and our leaders arrested him, judged him guilty, and had him crucified. He died three days ago. Now, some women who followed Jesus really surprised us! Early this morning, they went to his tomb and didn't find his body. They came back and claimed they saw angels who said Jesus was alive! Other followers went to the tomb and found it just like the women reported. But, they didn't see Jesus."
"Foolish men!" Jesus said. "Are you so slow to understand you couldn't believe what the prophets wrote in the Bible? Didn't the Messiah need to suffer and die so he could receive God's glory?" Then, Jesus explained everything in the Bible about himself. He began with Moses and went through all the prophets.
As the two men came closer to the place they wanted to go, Jesus pretended to walk further. But, they pressed Jesus to change his mind. "Stay with us!" they urged Jesus. "It's almost sunset." So Jesus went inside with them.
When they sat down to dinner, Jesus took some bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the two men. Now, they could recognize Jesus! Suddenly, he vanished.
"Wasn't it exciting to listen to him on the road as he explained the Bible to us?" they said to each other. Immediately, they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven Apostles and their friends who were all together.
"It's true! The Lord is risen! He appeared to Peter," everyone told the two travelers.
"We know!" the two replied. "He talked with us on the way to Emmaus. Then, he broke bread with us. That's when we knew it was really Jesus!"
Cassandra fumed as she sped away on her bike. Her mom went through her chest of drawers looking for matches. "I never play with matches!" Cassandra thought. "Why didn't Mom trust me? No! She listened to Jesse instead." Jesse, her younger brother, always seemed to look for ways to get her in trouble.
As Cassandra rode, she thought about her brother, the matches, and her mom's frowning face over and over. The more she thought, the angrier she got. And the more disappointed she was in her mom. If her mom didn't trust her, she didn't trust her mom.
Soon, Cassandra found herself in a strange neighborhood. Nothing looked familiar. Suddenly her anger didn't matter, for now, she was afraid. Was she lost? How could she have traveled so far and not known where she was going?
As she rode around looking for a familiar sight, she thought about her mom and the matches. She began to see that her mom looked in her drawers, not because she distrusted Cassandra, but because she didn't want her daughter to get hurt. That's what her mom was trying to tell Cassandra as she ran out the door to her bike. "I'm sorry, Mom," Cassandra muttered to herself.
As she turned the corner on Maple, Cassandra saw her friend's house. Then she saw the Farmer's Market where her mom shops on Thursdays. The streets and houses and signs began to look familiar. Cassandra knew she was still far from home, but now, she knew the way back. She pedaled quicker because the sun was low in the sky. It was almost dinner time.
Rounding the corner, Cassandra pedaled as fast as she could into her driveway. She flew off her bike, ran in the kitchen door, and into the arms of her mom. "I'm sorry, Mom!" exclaimed Cassandra. "I know you love me and want me to be safe." With that apology, Cassandra and her mom hugged each other for a long time.
Like Cassandra, the two men who walked to the village were angry. They were mad Jesus had died. And, like Cassandra, they didn't trust the words of the people who cared for them. They didn't believe the women who said Jesus had risen from the dead.
But like the girl in our story, something got the two men's attention. Getting lost got Cassandra's attention. Having the Bible explained to the two men in a new way got their attention. Unlike Cassandra, however, the two men got to see something more. They got to see Jesus at dinner when they broke bread. We can know Jesus is with us when we eat the broken bread in Eucharist.
Like Cassandra, the two men ran back to people who loved them, who wanted to share really Good News with them. It's the same Good News we share every Sunday. Jesus is risen!
Closing Question: How can we freely share God's life with others?