Jesus teaches, invites, and empowers
Today’s Gospel reading and the preceding account of the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), both from Luke, give us insight into how Jesus teaches and enlightens his disciples. In both accounts, Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). He then reminds them that they “are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48) Jesus gives us a pattern to follow in sharing the Good News. He teaches them, invites them to participate in his mission, and empowers them with his Holy Spirit.
Jesus teaches his disciples (students). He tells them stories to enlighten their minds about the kingdom of God and God’s merciful love. He apprentices them to show them how to interact with people with generosity and graciousness. He teaches them to pray and call God “Abba,” inviting them into an intimate relationship with their heavenly “Daddy.”
We also learn from Jesus by praying and studying the Scriptures. We become his apprentices by learning to live and act as he did with grace and generosity. We grow in intimate relationship with God, our Abba, by making prayer a constant habit.
Jesus invites his disciples to participate in his mission. He sends them out to preach the Good News (Matthew 10:1-15; Luke 10:1-12). He tells them to proclaim peace, cure the sick, and preach the kingdom of God. They go out, and because they are empowered by the Spirit they are able to “tread on the enemy” (Luke 10:17-20).
Jesus invites us, too, to participate in his mission to proclaim the Good News in the world. He encourages us to go out and serve the needs of others. He exhorts us to proclaim peace to everyone we encounter. He calls us to preach the merciful love God not only through our words, but also through our actions. We even might, as many saints have done through the centuries, be conduits of Jesus’ healing power for the sick and suffering.
After his Resurrection, Jesus comes to his disciples, breathes his Spirit into them, and commissions them to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-18; Acts 1:6-8). We know that the disciples didn’t completely embrace their commission until after they received the fullness of the Spirit at Pentecost. After that, though, they could not be stopped, even by death.
Jesus has empowered us with his Spirit through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation so that we can boldly and confidently proclaim God’s abounding grace and merciful love. Just as with learning, though, we need to take some initiative to welcome the Spirit into our lives. We cultivate our hearts for Christ’s mission through prayer and participation in the Sacraments so as to receive the power of the Spirit to move through us.
Through this season of Easter, let us grow in our knowledge of Christ, our relationship with Christ, and our commitment to serve Christ and proclaim his message in the world.