Monday, May 05, 2014

Homily - "Our hearts burn for love"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

We were already excited about the FOCUS conference in January in Nashville.  They are hoping to get 7,000-10,000 college students from around the country.  It really is a great experience.  But, then, we saw last week that Jim Gaffigan will be performing at the conference.  He is a comedian who is Catholic and hilarious.  He does some bits about the faith that sometime toe the line but are really funny.  Like, when he talks about his wife who is Catholic.  He says, “she’s a serious Catholic…like a Shiite Catholic”.  When they go to Church to pray together, she closes her eyes and very seriously prays.  He gets on his knees, closes his eyes, and tries to pray, but all that enters his mind is…”did I go to Wendy’s twice yesterday?”

For those who don’t know, FOCUS is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.  They are Catholic missionaries who serve at almost 100 campuses around the country.  We have had FOCUS missionaries for 4 years at GW.  They do an excellent job of building up the Catholic community at Newman Centers through Bible studies, discussion groups, mentoring, and evangelization on campus.  They are a really good presence to have around.  I do want to plug our Bible studies through FOCUS for next year because we hear about a Bible study in tonight’s Gospel. Jesus leads a Bible study with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  He opens up the Scriptures and interprets them to them.  They enjoy it so much that they ask Him to stay with them.  They would say later that their “hearts were burning” when He taught them Scripture. 

If you’ve ever had that experience when someone explains Scripture to you, it really is that your hearts burn.  First, God made our hearts and our hearts burn for Him Word.  Second, the Bible can be a cryptic language for us…like a foreign language.  It is the language of love, but hard for us to understand.  When someone explains it to us, it’s like learning a new language… the greatest language.   Also, there are benefits with learning a new language.  I remember taking Latin in high school.  My parents promised me that Latin would help my vocabulary. Ok, so that might not have happened (!), but for most people that is true.  The benefit of learning the language of the Bible is wisdom.  We have had Scripture scholars speak at Newman and they are just a wealth of wisdom in so many areas.

St. Peter teaches Scripture in the first reading.  He interprets Psalm 16 as being about the Resurrection.  Psalm 16 is one of my favorites, but I didn’t know it was specifically referencing the Resurrection of Christ.  When we first hear this interpretation, we might think, “where does he mention the Resurrection?”  But, then, we take a closer look: “my flesh, too, will dwell in hope…will not see corruption”.  Wow, David was talking about Christ!  The prophets were talking about Christ!  Once the cryptic language is translated, it opens up so much for us in understanding Christ, God, and our faith.

The whole “hearts burning” experience is really an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit wrote Scripture, and the Spirit interprets Scripture.  The Spirit teaches us the language of love and truth, and our hearts burn for love and truth.  Normally, we give our hearts to whatever is closest…things of the world like movies and music.  But, when we hear God speak to us, then our hearts have found what they truly desire….what they truly burn for.

Finally, this Gospel is the story of our lives.  We are walking along the path and Jesus is with us.  We don’t often recognize that He is with us.  For so many of us, it’s been in the Eucharist that we have recognized Him:  “he was made known to them in the breaking of bread”.   Many people see this scene as the first Mass: Jesus celebrates the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. 

For those of you who are finishing your exams this week and heading home, have a great summer!  Three things for you to do this summer spiritually: 1) Mass every Sunday even if you’re on vacation.  2) 20 minutes of prayer every day.  3) Pray the rosary every day even if it’s just a decade;  take Our Lady with you this summer.  Have you hearts burn for Christ and know that His heart burns for you with love. May you believe deeply in your hearts that He loves you.   You are loved by God!  You are good and you are loved.


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