Third Sunday of Easter
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Acts 2:1-14,22-33; Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35)
Experiencing More Deeply the Transforming Power of the Mass
Were not our hearts burning? (Luke 24:32)
Great writers have a knack for conveying deep, lasting truths in just a few words. This is the kind of artistry that we find in today’s Gospel. In telling the story of two people who meet the Lord on the road to Emmaus, St. Luke also tells us about the transforming power of the Mass.
Cleopas and another disciple were heading home sad because Jesus had been crucified (Luke 24:17-18). They still held out some hope because Mary Magdalene had told them about an empty tomb, but it doesn’t seem to have been enough for them. When Jesus met them on the road but concealed his identity, they shared their doubts with him. In response, he told them the story of salvation—and their hearts began to burn. Then at dinner, when Jesus blessed and broke the bread, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (24:31). With their faith restored, the disciples turned around and hurried back to Jerusalem so that they could tell the others what had happened.
Over and over, we hear about people who have stopped going to Mass because they don’t feel that they get anything out of it. Often, however, this happens when the outer “form” of the Mass—the quality of the music, the appearance of the church, the various words and gestures of the liturgy—becomes more important than the inner “substance” of what is actually going on.
Form is when we say, “I confess.” Substance is our experience of God washing us clean. Form is the lector proclaiming the readings. Substance is God’s word coming alive in our hearts. Form is our act of receiving Communion. Substance is our openness to God and his power to fill our hearts. Substance moves us to change our lives and to share the good news about Jesus with our neighbors.
In short, form focuses more on what we do, but substance focuses on who we are meeting.
“Lord, let me see you at Mass today. May I never settle for less than everything that you want to give me!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
- In the first reading from Acts, Peter gives a powerful proclamation of the Gospel message in such a way that the listeners are “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). Where did Peter, in spite of being an uneducated fisherman, get such a gift? (Hint: Peter gives the answer in Acts 2:33.) If we believe that we as baptized Catholics have the ability to proclaim the Gospel through the power of the Spirit that dwells in us, what keeps us from sharing it with others? How can you overcome some of these obstacles?
- Notice in the responsorial psalm, how the psalmist keeps his mind and heart fixed on the Lord (“I set the Lord ever before me”) and the fruit of it (”with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed”). What steps can you take to turn to the Lord more often during the day, even in the midst of your busyness?
- In the second reading from 1 Peter, we are reminded to “conduct yourself with reverence” because “you were ransomed from your futile conduct . . . with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:17-19). Do you believe that reflecting more on what Jesus accomplished by shedding his blood on the cross for you can impact how you live out your day? Why or why not? Any examples?
- The Gospel reading describes the Emmaus Road encounter with Jesus by two of his disciples. Why do you think they did not recognize Jesus until “the breaking of bread” (an early Church term for the Eucharist)?
- Are you willing to spend time just prior to the start of Mass reading and reflecting on the Mass readings? If not, why not? Perhaps if you do, like the Emmaus Road disciples, your heart will burn as the Scriptures are read and explained at Mass.
- The meditation speaks of the outer “form” of the Mass and the inner “substance” of the Mass. How would you describe the difference between these? Why is it critical to not let the outer form become more important than the inner substance of the Mass?
- Take some time now and pray that at Mass, you would experience more deeply God’s transforming power. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.