Sunday, April 6, 2008

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter

Have you attended a sporting event, such as football, and during the last period or quarter, with your team well behind and defeat seeming a near certainty? And did you notice so many of the fans leaving the game early, already feeling the defeat and heading home? But on the rare occasion, the following morning it turns out your team had come from behind and won the game?

That's what came to mind as I read today's Gospel about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified and buried. Now they were headed home defeated, confused, wondering what had gone wrong. They were returning to their old lives now that this Jesus, powerful prophet that he had been, had turned out to not be the expected Messiah.

Then the Gospel tells us how Jesus appeared to them as they walked, but they didn't recognize him. As they talked He "opened" the words of Scripture to them, explaining everything and showing how the Scriptures were fulfilled in Him. His words, as they would recall, caused a "burning" in their hearts.

Later, when Jesus "broke bread" with them that they recognized Him.

We have much in common with those two disciples. We are also disciples of Jesus, as we show by being here in church today. And when we leave today we head out to journey on our own private "roads to Emmaus" where ever our journey takes us.

Like the disciples we, too, will encounter Jesus on our journey and, like them, we will probably not recognize Him. We won't recognize him in those around us who are hurting or broken, who are in need, but who we don't take the time to minister to.

Jesus could be present in the person at the office who is suffering from the loss of a loved one, or perhaps of a broken relationship, and who needs a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to just listen.

Jesus is present in the homeless and hungry that we pass by with a blind eye every day.

As with the disciples, Jesus is present to us today in the Word we heard. But do our hearts BURN?!? Have we been attentive to that Word? Have we truly listened?

Will we recognize Him, as the disciples did, at the moment of consecration, at the "breaking of the bread"? Are our hearts and minds open to the wonder and awe that is His presence truly with us?

Our challenge as we leave today is to see Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

Our challenge is to greet Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

Our challenge is to BE Christ where ever we find ourselves on our road to Emmaus.

As we approach the altar to receive His precious body and blood reflect, if you will, on the crucifix. Our Lord's crucified body is NOT a symbol of defeat! Rather, it is a reminder that it is through His death AND glorious resurrection we have received the gift of eternal life, our hope of eternal salvation!

Finally, as we leave today and once again continue on our journey, remember that the "game" doesn't end here. We must ask ourselves, "Can we... Do we... WILL we remain faithful to our Lord as we encounter Him on our road to Emmaus?


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