“Who Are You?” ~ Discovering Your True Identity by Encountering Jesus (Gospel Reflection)

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In today’s video reflection, Father Ian VanHeusen presents a spiritual exercise based on Sunday’s Gospel reading.

St. Ignatius of Loyola explains, “By the term “Spiritual Exercises” is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities.


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“For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”

This week, we invite you to first prayerfully read the Gospel for the Third Sunday After Easter, then watch the video, and finally go through Father VanHeusen’s spiritual exercise.


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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (24:13-35)

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.


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What do you think prevented them from recognizing Jesus? What was he trying to teach his disciples?

He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”

They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”

And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”

Notice how Jesus draws out insights from the disciples. How might the Holy Spirit be questioning you so that you can grow?

They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.

“Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.

How do you encounter Jesus in the Bible? Do you have any favorite passages of the Bible? Try using them like short little prayers that help you connect with the presence of Jesus.

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

Does your celebration of the Mass lead you to wonder and awe? Are you drawn into the mystery of the Eucharist at Mass? If not, pray that the Holy Spirit will purge you of everything that keeps you from the ecstasy of the Mass.

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Does your heart burn within you when you read the scripture or celebrate the sacraments? If not, pray for this desire and pray that the Holy Spirit will purge you of everything that keeps you from this sweet communion.

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

The Gospel of the Lord

Spiritual exercise:

1) What are you known for? What are the attributes that describe who you are?

2) What is Jesus known for? What are the attributes that would describe Jesus?

3) Do an examination of conscience. How do your attributes line up with Jesus’s attributes? In what do you need to grow? How can you be more Christ-like?


If you would like to print out these questions, we have prepared a downloadable handout version of this Spiritual Exercise. Click the download button bellow.

About Fr. Ian Van Heusen

Fr. Ian Van Heusen has written 21 post in this blog.

Fr. Ian is a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, NC. He is assigned to St. Bernadette Catholic Church as a Parochial Vicar, and he writes on prayer and meditation at www.ianvanheusen.com.

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