WELCOME THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
Two of Jesus’ disciples are leaving Jerusalem. They walk along sadly and brokenhearted. The hope that they had placed in Jesus has been extinguished in their hearts when they saw him die on the cross. But they keep thinking about him anyway. They can’t forget him. Was it all a dream?
While they go along talking and discussing all they’ve been through, Jesus comes by and starts walking with them. But the disciples don’t recognize him. The Jesus in whom they had trusted so much and whom they have loved passionately perhaps, now seems to be a stranger.
Jesus joins in on their conversation. The two walkers listen to him at first with surprise, but little by little something awakens in their hearts. They don’t know exactly what’s happening. Later on they will say: «Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures?».
The walkers feel themselves drawn by Jesus’ words. The moment arrives when they need his company. They don’t want to let him leave: «Stay with us». During the meal, they will have their eyes opened and will recognize him. This is the great message of the story: when we welcome Jesus as a companion on the journey, his words can awaken in us the hope we lost.
In recent years, many people have lost faith in Jesus. Little by little he has become someone strange and unknown to them. All that they know about him is what they can reconstruct in partial and fragmentary ways based on what they have heard from preachers and catechists.
Without a doubt, the Sunday homily fulfills a role that can’t be replaced, but it clearly ends up insufficient to help people today enter into direct and living contact with the Gospel. In its current usage, in the face of people that keep quiet, not voicing their concerns, questions and problems, it is impossible to regenerate the floundering faith of so many who seek to meet Jesus, sometime without even knowing that’s what they’re doing.
Isn’t it time to develop, outside of the context of the Sunday Liturgy, a new and different space to listen together to Jesus’ Gospel? Why not get together – laity and priests, women and men, convinced Christians and people interested in the faith – to listen, share, dialogue and welcome Jesus’ Gospel?
We need to give the Gospel the chance to enter into direct, immediate contact with the problems, crises, fears and hopes of people today, with all its transforming power. It will soon be too late to recover in our midst the original freshness of the Gospel. Today it’s possible. This is what the proposal of the Jesus Groups tries to do.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf