April 22nd, Third Sunday of Easter
Today, the Church continues the thrilling celebration of the reality of the Resurrection. The Gospel narrative is from St. Luke’s and it rapidly joins the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and the confusion and stumbling of his first followers. The story describes two of Jesus’ disciples, not the apostles, who were walking towards the small town of Emmaus just outside of Jerusalem. There is a mysterious stranger with them and he begins to ask questions about their concern and nervousness. They seem to be astounded that he has not heard about the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. The stranger then calms them down and explains what has happened and why and reveals that it is Jesus himself. I love the next sentence. “They were incredulous for sheer joy and wonder…” And then Jesus said, “Have you anything to eat?” Even in the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection, we see Jesus realistic and very earthly in a heavenly way.
After the meal (was it the first Mass?), they fully realized who was with them and Jesus disappears. The disciples then said to each other, “Did our hearts not burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us.” Do we not think this way after communion at Sunday Mass? Being conscious of Christ’s presence within us and within the whole community gathered around the altar our hearts should burn and we should share today in the joy of that day 2,000 years ago.
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Everyone loves First Communion Sundays! The children are so beautiful, and they look so holy. We know that for each one of them, this is a very special moment in their lives, even though they do not really understand most of what they have been taught.
Jesus comes into the life of these innocent children through a gift that He gave the Church in order that He might never be too far from us. The Eucharist is Christ’s greatest gift, and the one most appreciated in the Sacramental life of the Church.
But is anyone else touched by this ceremony? I personally believe that it can be a greater spiritual gift to the parents and older friends, then to these delightful seven year olds. If the parents involve themselves in their children’s preparation for First Communion; if the parents, by example, show the awesome reality that is involved in going to Holy Communion on Sunday morning; if the parents can reflect the fact that Jesus’s presence is extraordinarily important to them as grownup people, then the ramifications are almost immeasurable!
The kids will not really grasp most of the theology that is presented to them, but they will certainly understand from their parents’ example, that there is something awesomely and beautifully happening not just in their individual lives, but in the life of their family!
Parents cannot be reminded too often that they are the principle teachers of their children. Their formation, their sense of direction and values, are almost overwhelmingly coming from their parents in those first formative years. As they go to the altar, do not let them go alone. Be with them every step of the way.
As at Emmaus, “they will see Him in the breaking of the Bread!”
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Third Sunday of Easter
We are moving forward into the joyful Easter season. First we celebrated the Resurrection itself, then we turned our attention to the infinite forgiveness that is always available to us. In today’s Gospel, we begin for the first time to see the beginnings of a functioning Church. The story is the magnificent excerpt from Luke’s Gospel in which on the first Easter Sunday afternoon two of Jesus’ disciples, not apostles, were leaving Jerusalem and headed towards the village of Emmaus. Naturally, they were talking about the recent events regarding the tragedy of Jesus’ suffering and death.
These two men had heard about the empty tomb but they had not as yet gotten their minds around the reality of the Resurrection. Luke describes this delightful scene where Jesus places himself in a catechetical position instructing these two men as to prophecies of the Old Testament and how they were now being fulfilled. When they reached the village of Emmaus the guys prevailed on Jesus to stop and stay with them. They settled down in the little café in the inn and Jesus takes bread, prays over it and when he does that the men recognize him. At that point, he disappears. Racing back into town, they tell others that they have seen the Lord and then this wonderful sentence – “How they had come to know him in the breaking of the bread.”
That is the joy of Sunday Mass! We come to know him in the breaking of the bread.
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