Gospel Message & Recording
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he appears to two of his disciples in his post-resurrection unrecognizable form, while they had departed from Jerusalem and on the road to Emmaus. While on the road, they converse about the things that transpired in the weeks past concerning Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. As they reached the city, Jesus was about to depart but the disciples asked him to lodge with them. That evening, Jesus broke bread with them, and immediately he vanished from their sight. Then the disciples spoke with each other about how their hearts “burned” while they were on the road when Jesus was speaking to them. (St. Luke 24:32)
It’s interesting to note that the disciples' hearts “burned” as Jesus spoke. Here, the idea of “burning” is not at all negative, as we might interpolate in the context of a burning home. Rather, it is the “warmth” that came over the disciples as they conversed with Jesus and was in his presence.
During the Qurbana, when the Anaphora begins, and I step onto the Derga, I have on several occasions, have felt a warmth come over me. So, I believe that the warmth is a “feeling” as well as an actual “warming-up” of the body. But here, I will only discuss the “feeling” as it relates to our witness to others, that is, our ability to bring comfort and peace into another person’s life in their time of struggle and difficulty.
As Christians we are called to bring comfort into the lives of others; but sometimes, we respond in a way that does not bring comfort. As Pope Francis said, ‘A Christian is suppose to build bridges, not walls.’ Now, he was alluding to President Trump and his political ideologies. But think about it! Do we put walls up, rather than building bridges? When we provide comfort for others, we are building bridges. Conversely, when are insensitive and rash we are putting up walls.
How do we break down walls and build bridges?
- Get to know a person: we tend to make assumptions and judgments based on appearance; that is, where we come from, where we were raised, the type of accent we have, our weird oddities, intelligence level. Such assumptions or judgments are unchristian. We can bring no warmth/comfort to anyone, if we, in the initial stages, put a person in a category that society or we have constructed.
- Allow friendships to build community: As a mission, our purpose is to build community through our friendships; in turn, our friendship(s) become a witness to others about Christ and bring comfort to the lives of those are hurting. Through the friendships that are formed at church, we should make sure we are building bridges and bringing comfort to everyone.
- Responding appropriately: when someone tells us about their life struggles, we should respond appropriately by providing comfort and encouragement. This means that we should treat that person’s struggle as valid and legitimate never trivializing it by comparing it to someone else’s problem, or some circumstance where people are suffering in the world.
This means that we are not to jump into solving their problems or finding solutions, for the simple fact that we might not be equipped to do so. Rather, first, let them know we are praying for them; second, let them know that Jesus is always with them; third, let them know that we are always there to lend a “listening ear.”
- “As Christians, we are called to bring comfort into the lives of others; but sometimes, we respond in a way that does not bring comfort. As Pope Francis said, ‘A Christian is supposed to build bridges, not walls.’ Now, he was alluding to President Trump and his political ideologies. But think about it! Do we put walls up, rather than building bridges? When we provide comfort for others, we are building bridges. Conversely, when are insensitive and rash we are putting up walls.” Comment or Discuss.
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best and 1 the worst) how would you rate our parish (it’s ministries, fellowship, and outreach) in the three areas of building bridges: Get to know a person, Allow friendships to build community, and Responding appropriately. Do you feel, as individuals (in the parish), that we need to improve in these areas? Do you feel, as a parish, we need to improve in these areas? Are there any areas that we are doing well in? Discuss.
- Share any positive experiences that you might have had in the past year in the three areas of building bridges.