As we celebrate the day of Pentecost, which occurred two thousand plus years ago to the beloved Disciples of Christ, we are reminded in the Gospel reading today that we are the branches and Christ is the vine and God the Father is the vinedresser. (St. John 15: 1) As residents of this area, we are not necessarily aware of plants that have vines. We are however more accustomed to seeing trees and its branches. If we were to travel to California or a Mediterranean country we would see grapevines with its branches in abundances. Observing more closely, we would see that the vine is strong yet flexible, a thick stem that has branches, which yields its fruit.
That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (St. John 17: 21-23) These are the Words of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is praying this prayer to His Father in regard to us—we who are the believers of him. In particular, he mentions that he and his father are one, and just as they are one, so also, we are one with them. This might seem like a contradiction, that is, that the Trinity and mankind could be one. But from the beginning of time, man has always searched for how there could be “unity” within “diversity.” For the Christian, at least, that quest is a reality with the Holy Trinity.
In the Gospel Reading today we hear that Jesus had his face “set to Jerusalem.” What that means, figuratively, is that Jesus was focused on his mission: giving his life over for the salvation of the world. On his way to accomplish that mission, traveling to Jerusalem by foot, he wanted to stop by a Samaritan village with his disciples and lodge there for the evening to get some rest. The Gospel of Luke records that the village did not receive Jesus; and so the disciples James and John, upon seeing this asked Jesus if they should, like Elijah, call fire to come down and consume the village. Jesus, in reply said, “You do not know what spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives but to save them.” (St. Luke 9: 55-56)
In the Gospel reading today we see that two of the disciples of Jesus Christ are walking on a road from Jerusalem to a town seven miles away called Emmaus. These two men were conversing with each other about the things that took place in Jerusalem in the past few days, that is, the crucifixion, death and supposed resurrection of their Master. As they walked and spoke with each other about these things, a man appeared and began to walk beside them. It was the risen Christ. The Gospel of St. Luke chapter 24, explains that the disciples “eyes were restrained” from recognizing that it was Christ. In this unrecognizable state, Jesus played “dumb” and asked what they were talking about. They explain to him how Jesus was a great teacher and the expected Messiah of Israel, but that he was handed over to the Romans by the Jews and eventually killed by crucifixion. Their explanation of the things that occurred seem to convey to the reader that they were disappointed at the outcome, and in someway downtrodden over their experience with Jesus Christ. The unrecognizable Christ explained how the Messiah had to suffer in order to fulfill the Scriptures. Then a good distance into their travels they wanted to lodge at a hotel and invited Jesus to join them. There, Jesus broke bread with them (Qurbana), and at that moment, the “scales” (the restraint) from their eyes were removed and they recognized the Lord.
At the last defining moments of Jesus’ life, he stood before the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jewish people at that time) to be falsely condemned and put to death. During those agonizing moments, the second person in command, Peter, who, in the absence of Jesus, was in charge of the disciples and the whole Christian movement, was found denying that he had ever known Jesus to individuals who questioned him about his affiliation to Jesus Christ. This came as no surprise to Jesus, for he knew the weaknesses and fears that Peter struggles with. Despite this, Christ saw the great potential that Peter had in his contribution toward the leadership of the early Church. This was demonstrated when Christ asked Peter if he loved him three times, an obvious repercussion for Peter’s denial of Christ.