Reflection 042620 April 26, 2020
Psalm 116:12-19/ Luke 24:13-35
How We Experience the Divine
Today’s one fact about myself is that, every day, I receive a daily devotional material from the United Church of Christ, our sister church in the United States. This week, I was surprised to find a reflection of Jonah in the whale’s belly. Why suddenly Jonah’s story during this Season of Easter? Jonah was a prophet whom God told to go to Nineveh to convert its residents. Since he didn’t want to go there, he took a ship going in the opposite direction. However, a storm hit, the sailors found out that it was Jonah’s fault, and he was thrown overboard. A whale swallowed him, and he stayed inside the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, during which time Jonah had a spiritual awakening and prayed earnestly. By the time the whale threw him up, he was ready to do God’s work. The minister who wrote this reflection said Jonah’s three days inside the whale was like a time out. Just like Jonah’s time out inside the whale, our quarantine is also like a time out, during which time we should experience a spiritual awakening like Jonah.
Our current situation being stuck at home is a bit like Jesus in the tomb for three days or Jonah inside the whale’s belly for three days. As we saw last Sunday, the first disciples were stuck behind locked doors after their teacher was killed. Just like Jonah had a spiritual awakening and conversion of heart inside the whale, our social distancing period could be a good time for self-reflection and spiritual conversion, a time to transform more and more into the image of Christ.
In today’s gospel story, we met two of the disciples who felt like they were inside the tomb, a whale’s belly, or quarantined from a pandemic. There are certain elements from this story that deserve our attention. The first one is that they did not initially realize that their travel companion was their teacher. So, when did they realize it was Jesus? If you remember our Easter story from the Gospel of John chapter 20, Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus when he called her by her name. In today’s story, the two disciples do two things before they recognized Jesus. First, they invited Jesus to come into the house to stay the night. Second, they broke bread and ate together. This is how one meets the divine; by taking an active measure reaching out to the divine, and then sharing bread with God’s people. Of course, sharing bread is an analogy for sharing our resources, hearts, and time with others. The first step to experiencing the divine is about our relationship with God. We should reach out to God and spend time with God through prayer and meditation. The second step is about our relationship with each other. We are called to be the people of God’s reign; caring for those in need and sharing God’s love with one another. To experience the divine, we should maintain a healthy relationship with both God and God’s people.
Until this pandemic is over, let us safely stay at home like Jonah inside the whale’s belly, and work on our relationship with God. As our relationship with God becomes more and more intimate, the Holy Spirit that lives in us will guide our hearts to reach out to God’s people more. We, who are called to live in God’s kingdom, experience the divine by living by God’s love with all God’s people. Peace be our journey of social isolation in God’s company…