Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Homily: 3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33 (46A)
Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:32

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

1. Our gospel today is one that we have certainly heard many times and almost always we associate it with the Holy Eucharist, and certainly that is very fitting. As the gospel relates, they were not able to see that this stranger was Jesus until they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, in the Holy Eucharist. This gospel is a clear reminder for us of our belief that Jesus is truly and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. He lives, day and night, in the tabernacle waiting for us to share our time with Him, the very time that He has given to us as a gift.

2. But today, I am not going to give my homily on the Eucharist. Instead, we will focus on how important it is for us to encounter Christ, to meet this Man and come to know Him, and to grow in friendship with Him so that we can truly be people of hope.

3. In our gospel we see two disciples of Jesus leaving Jerusalem on the evening of Easter Sunday totally disillusioned by what has happened. As the scriptures say they were “downcast.” These two men had nearly lost all hope, they were beginning to feel as though their life has no meaning anymore, and that all they had hoped for had not happened. In many ways, I think we could say that these two men were us; the emotions they felt at that moment are feelings that we have felt at times during our lives.

4. As they are walking along in this sad condition a stranger joins them, someone they did not recognize, and this man asks them what they are discussing along the way. When they heard this question, the men stop in their tracks, look at this stranger and say “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” The disciples are bewildered that there is anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on in the world. Their very posture shows their absolute bewilderment – how many times have we done the same thing while walking and talking with someone when the person we are with says something that doesn’t make sense. We stop in our track, look at them, and say “What are you talking about.” This is exactly the experience that these men had on that road.

5. Then Jesus, in His compassion and love says to them “What sort of things? He invites them to open their hearts to Him. He invites them to express what is in their hearts; all the raw emotions, all the anger, all the pain and sorrow, and all the confusion. The disciples respond in kind…they open up their hearts and let it all out… “…..”

6. After these men honestly and openly reveal their hearts to Jesus He begins the process of bringing them healing; He begins to explain everything that had happened and why it had to be this way. He brings them peace and He brings them hope.

7. So many of us struggle, we struggle with the bad things that happen in our lives. At one time or another in our lives we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, have had our hopes dashed. The words they say we could say ourselves. How many times have we said “I had hoped it would have been different…I had hoped that my children would have been faithful to the church, I had hoped my kids would have stayed out of trouble, I had hoped my spouse would not have cheated, I had hoped I wouldn’t have gotten sick, I had hoped he wouldn’t have died…I had hoped…I had hoped…I had hoped…

8. In the midst of those hurts and pains Jesus says to us, like He said the disciples, tell me what’s going on in your lives. And if we open up as did the disciples, if we lay it all out on the table, Jesus will begin to heal us. He will, in deep prayer, begin to help us to deal with the pain in our lives, and like the disciples soon our hearts will begin to burn within us, they will begin to burn with love for our friend, Jesus Christ. All friendship requires that we open ourselves up to the other, and the same is true of Jesus. He wants us to open our hearts to Him, to share our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears. Only when we allow ourselves to do this, when we open our hearts and whatever is in there, both good and bad, will we be able to grow in friendship with Christ.

9. Many times people come to priests to talk about their sorrows, about how their hopes have been dashed, and I always try to ask them if they have shared these things with our Lord in prayer. Many times they then say they are angry with the Lord, and they are surprised to hear me tell them that they should tell the Lord they are angry. I think so many of us have been taught that we shouldn’t be angry with God, and we certainly shouldn’t express that anger to God, but you know what. We should. The disciples on the road to Emmaus did, and they found hope and peace through that sort of prayerful honesty with God.

10. Jesus doesn’t want us to pretend things are just hunky dory when they are not. He wants us to open our heart to Him with all the anger and fear and pain that might be there…so don’t be afraid to let Him have it if that’s what’s on your mind. Jesus is a true friend who wants you to express your true feelings to Him in prayer, He wants you to cry on his shoulder. He is like the little boy whose friend, Tommy, died in a horrible tragedy. A few days after the funeral the little boy decided to visit his Tommy’s house and say hello to Tommy’s mom. The little boy came home a long time later and his mother asked him where he had been all this time and what he had been doing. The little boy responded “All afternoon I sat on Tommy’s moms lap and helped her cry.” Jesus, our friend, can help us cry, He can help us deal with all the tough things that happen in our lives, but we have to open our hearts to him in prayer… so go for it…tell Him what’s on your mind…I promise He will respond with healing and peace.

Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

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