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Pastoral Visit to Takasaki Catholic Church



Pastoral Visit to Takasaki Catholic Church


April 19, 2015 ; Third Sunday of Easter

Christianity is a religion that was established based on the event of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The disciples encountered
the resurrected Jesus and expressed this incident to people with joy. The Gospel preached on the second Sunday of Easter last week
was from the Gospel of John. It mentioned that Jesus appeared to the trembling disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you”. Today’s Gospel is the latter part of the story about the resurrected Jesus appearing as a traveler to two disciples heading for Emmaus.
We’d like to take a look at this today as well as the previous part of the story.

The two disciples lost heart and looked gloomy because of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Jesus came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Jesus interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. While they listened to Jesus’ interpretation, they gradually felt brightened up. When Jesus was at the table with them and broke bread, their eyes were
opened and they recognized him. This is the first half of the story.

It is said that this story of Jesus appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus is similar to the structure of the mass we are celebrating now. At the mass, first we listen to the word of the Bible, share the meaning of the word, and then offer bread and wine and receive Communion. It is an essential preparation for receiving Jesus that we listen and taste the word of the Bible. In the story of the disciples heading for Emmaus, it should be noted that Jesus himself walked with the disciples and interpreted to them. The Bible is a book that we should read and taste with Jesus’ guidance. Though the Bible has some difficult parts to understand, it is an important message that we should read from the perspective of the resurrected Jesus.
When Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be with you.”(Luke 24: 36), the disciples got the mission to express to people the peace they received from Jesus. The peace of Jesus Christ is the good news of the forgiveness of sins and of the freedom from sins. And I think it is also a mission for us to make an effort to build a society where every person is respected as a human being on this earth.
Jesus said : “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
The bishops of Japan issued the message titled “70Years after the War. Blessed are the peacemakers-Now especially, peace must not depend upon weapons”. (February 25, 2015)
We have walked through for the last seventy years with the exclamation of our decision to renounce war and never to use any weapons for the settlement of a dispute, based upon our miserable experiences of the 2nd World war and our decision never to begin wars. The ideal to renounce war is the goal that the Gospel of Jesus itself asks for every one and every one should aim for and keep.
In fact the Bishops of Japan published the message, “Determination for Peace”, upon 50 years after the end of the war. (February 25, 1995) In this message, the bishops expressed as follows : “In those days the Catholic Church didn’t realize the hidden inhuman and un-evangelical stream when Japan led the army to the Asian-Pacific area all over Japan in growing nationalism. And it lacked a proper awareness of the prophetic role it should have fulfilled to protect precious human life and carry out the will of God.”
And then when we marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, we issued the message titled “The Road to Peace Based on Nonviolence ~ Now is the Time to be Prophetic”. In it we expressed that Christians are requested to oppose evil not with evil but oppose and defeat it with goodness.
This spirit of nonviolence is embodied as Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution. We Japanese had decided to renounce war as a solution to settle international disputes and accordingly not to hold any military force. Because of Article 9 in our Constitution, it has been realized that we Japanese have never killed or been killed by war for the last 70 years.
How much military expenditure is used for wars, armament and weapons? We should disarm and change the weapons into the tools for peace and happiness.
Though the realty is far from this ideal, we should walk toward this ideal. The renouncement of our weapons should be accompanied by a disarmament of our hearts. The disarmament of our heart is the building and nurturing of trust and friendship among us. The cross of Jesus Christ destroyed the wall separating each ethnic group. We as children of God pray together and learn together. For that to be realized, we have to begin with meeting each other, helping each other and understanding each other. (cf. the message of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, issued 1995-Determination for Peace)
To work for peace is to stack up daily prayers and acts. Let’s follow the example of Jesus, carrying each other’s pain and suffering and sharing joy and hopes as we walk together. I believe that’s the road of Christians toward peace.







[All the Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition (NRSVCE), copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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