Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
And He said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the scriptures?” Luke 24:13-32 Tuesday of the Third Week of Pascha
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Just because one chooses to be a Christian doesn’t mean that there are never any moments of confusion. There are certainly moments in my own life as a priest where I am confused about the things I believe. Certain passages of the Bible are still confusing to me, no matter how many times I read them. Sometimes I am confused by God’s plan for my life. Sometimes I am confused about God’s plan for the world, why He allows certain things to happen.
When I was a little boy, I used to like to do dot-to-dot’s. I would see a paper filled with hundreds of dots and then I’d connect the numbers and eventually a beautiful picture would emerge. When I would get to one dot, I would find the next dot and continue. And I wouldn’t see the whole picture until all the dots were connected.
I recognize in my life that I won’t see the picture of my whole life until it’s over, until all the dots are connected. I accept that. I even have faith that God has put all the dots together on my paper so that I have the potential for a beautiful life. It may not be a long life necessarily. It may not even be a totally joyful life. But there is the potential for me to live a life that is beautiful in His eyes.
There have been times, though, that I have felt lost, where I have gotten to one dot and can’t seem to find the next dot. It’s as if on my dot-to-dot sheet, there dots end and the picture is not complete. And I wonder “where it the next dot?” “Is there a next dot?” “Why can’t I seem to find the next dot?” And most frequently “I think the next dot should be ‘here’ so why isn’t it?”
Many times I feel like the Disciples on the road to Emmaus. I’m hearing the message but I’m not understanding it. I may even see Christ right in front of me and not recognize Him. More often, I see His plan unfolding right in front of me and I don’t recognize it. To the credit of Cleopas and Luke, their “hearts burned” within them enough that they stayed with the conversation. They didn’t cynically dismiss Christ. In fact, they wanted Him to stay with them so that they could learn more.
And this is the lesson for today. Many times I am confused about Christianity—both the message and God’s plan for my life. But there is a burning in my heart to know more, so I stay on the road with Christ, and I keep the dialogue going. When you are confused about the Christian message or God’s plan for your life, keep the dialogue going, keep the fire in your heart burning until you have a moment of clarity. Don’t leave the conversation. Invite Christ to stay with you. THIS is one of the reasons why we pray every day, to keep the conversation going with Christ, to keep the fire burning, especially in those moments when life is more confusing than clear.
Christ, the life and the way, risen from the dead, accompanied Cleopas and Luke and became known at Emmaus at the breaking of the bread. Their souls and hearts burned with ardor when He spoke to them on the way and interpreted what He had endured by the Scriptures. Let us cry with them: He is risen and has appeared to Peter. (Exapostelarion of the 5th Eothinon, Trans. by Holy Cross Seminary Press)
Keep your dialogue with God going today!
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