Monday, May 09, 2011

3rd Sunday of Easter - homily

A buddy of mine was ordained a priest years ago in the South. Every priest ordination is a big event, but this one carried an extraordinary feel to it. He is an amazing young man, and it was such a huge celebration for his family and parish community. I think he was the first priest from his parish in many, many years. Towards the end of his first Mass, he gave a significant cloth from his ordination to his mother which is traditional. He reminded everyone there that that day only came about because his mother was open to life. He was the last of many kids - maybe eight or ten - and there had been serious concerns of having him (or any more children). But, she and his father said yes to life, and now the Church has a new priest because of it. It was a very powerful statement about motherhood. As we celebrate Mother's Day, let us all be reminded that everything we have comes through our mothers. Everything we have - priesthood included - comes from motherhood. Everything we have in Christ comes through Mary, our Blessed Mother. We thank God for her, our mothers, grandmothers, and godmothers.

We all have life through our mothers. We are all on the path of life, as we hear in today's psalm. We are on the path of life and, so we are the disciples on the road in today's Gospel. This Gospel is often used on retreats because it helps us to see where we are on the path...on the journey of faith. The disciples are walking along the path when something incredible happens: God walks with them! He starts talking with them but they don't recognize him. It is Easter Sunday, but are still sad and "downcast"...they are still reeling from the Crucifixion. Then, another incredible thing happens: God teaches them the Scriptures! He interprets the Old Testament passages that refers to him, mainly from the prophets. Can you imagine God teaching the Bible to you? They said later that their hearts were "burning" when He opened the Scriptures to them.

We have pretty much the same opportunity through the Church. Christ gave his authority to interpret and teach Sacred Scripture to the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, if we find a good teacher in the Church, we can have Scripture properly interpreted to us. And, when this happens, our hearts burn for Christ. We get a little sample of this from the first reading. Peter interprets Psalm 16, specifically "you will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence". This is one of my favorite lines in all of Scripture. Peter interprets what David wrote in Psalm 16 in light of Christ's resurrection. It is through the resurrection that we are shown the path of life and come to know the fullness of joy in Christ's kingdom.

Many GW students this year have been in Bible studies led by FOCUS missionaries. They have had the Bible interpreted properly for them by these excellent teachers. And so, their hearts are burning for Christ. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their words. If you weren't in a Bible study this year, definitely sign up for one in the fall. If you're around this summer, we will have a ten week Bible study on the Book of Revelation led by an excellent teacher, Jeff Cavins. He will explain the dramatic imagery of Heaven contained in Revelation; our hearts will be burning.

After the intense Scripture lesson, Jesus then celebrates the Eucharist with the two disciples. Many commentators have called this scene the first Mass; there is the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that the disciples recognize Him. There eyes are opened and they come to recognize Him. Many students have come to recognize Christ in the Eucharist this year. Twice as many have been coming to Sunday and daily Mass, and dozens come to Wednesday Adoration. Like me in college, they have recognized that it is really Him in the Eucharist. It's not just a symbol or's really Him…Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity! This is what the disciples realized in the breaking of bread: that Christ is risen and that He lives.

Finally, as we reflect on our journey of faith of the past year, let us recognize God walking with us. He has been with each one of you. He has been revealing Himself to you. He has shown you His life. He has shown you His love. My hope is that your eyes of faith have been opened to recognize Him and His love. My greatest hope is that you recognize deep in your burning hearts that you are good and you are loved.

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