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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Where is Your Emmaus?

Homily 3rd Sunday of Easter – Year A

The disciples were heading to Emmaus. Where is Emmaus, you might ask? It is a place just 7 miles from Jerusalem. Why were they going to Emmaus? Because it is just 7 miles from Jerusalem, and if you were walking, it is just far enough to get away from the misery and confusion of Jerusalem.

The writer Frederick Buechner describes Emmaus well:

            Emmaus is whatever we do, or wherever we go to make ourselves forget that the world holds nothing sacred: that even the wisest, bravest, and loveliest, decay and die; that even the noblest ideas that we have had – ideas about love and freedom and justice – have always in time been twisted out of shape by selfish men for selfish ends.

We all have an Emmaus!

-                     For some it is the Adoration room.
-                     For some it is being absorbed into a good novel.
-                     For some, it is spending time with grandchildren
-                     For me, it is the outdoors

Whether hiking a trail, kayaking the river, or camping in the forest, I can escape the misery and confusion often found in this world.

And that is where Jesus found these two disciples: going to a place where they could sort through the pain of Christ’s death, and the confusion of the rumors floating around that maybe he wasn’t dead after all.

Then Jesus approached the disciples as a stranger, and his mood didn’t match their own. He was informal and maybe even a little chatty, stating:
            “Whatch  y’all talking about?

The disciples looked at him, filled with several kinds of sadness, apparently also a little irritated at the ignorance of the stranger, and responded:

            “What hole did you just crawl out of?

Everyone knows what has been happening in Jerusalem.”

Then the disciples began to tell the stranger all about Jesus, his death, and the rumors of his resurrection. But Jesus rebuked them for being so reluctant to believe, and to prove his point, he began explaining the scriptures. How they pointed toward that very moment in time, and even though they listened, they didn’t hear him. And even though he was at their side, walking with them, they didn’t see him.

As the travelers approached their destination, Jesus, who always seemed to be several steps ahead of the disciples, walked on as if to continue his journey. He didn’t want to impose on the hospitality of the disciples, or to force himself into their still-mourning hearts. But the disciples urged him to stay.

Now the scene begins to change.

The strange traveler, their honored guest, had been given a spot at the head of the table. As they prepared to eat, he followed a formula that he had used before, and that we have been using in the church ever since. He took the bread, broke it, blessed it, and gave it to the disciples. That was what they needed, and with that, their eyes were opened. And when the disciples finally realized and recognized Jesus,  He disappeared!

Surely the disciples would have wanted him to stay with them: they wanted to understand the mystery of his resurrection.

They still had more questions, and they wanted him in their midst because there was something so wonderful and indescribable about him, something that filled the empty places within their hearts. So what can we glean from this message? Jesus is always present in our lives, but we often fail to see him.

It is often looking back on the past events of our day, or week, even our year that we can begin to see that he has touched us….. He will reveal himself in different ways to different people. But he does reveal himself.

We do not have the power or the ability to force this revelation, but we can search for ways to feel his presence and to celebrate him.

And that is what we are doing today.

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

When we take the bread, give thanks to God, break it, and share it as Disciples of Christ, we aren’t just doing something that reminds us of Jesus.

We are doing what he commanded of us, something that moves us into a spiritual reality, yet a mystery, but actually makes him present to us, and unites him to us.

Can you see him?

Can you feel him?

Can you hear him?

If we answered No!

Then we must ask ourselves….. Why Not?

Not unlike the disciples, He is often present in our midst, yet unnoticeable!

Are we even looking for him?

Do we look for Christ amongst the strangers?

Do we listen for Christ in the scriptures?

Do we honestly prepare ourselves for meeting him face-to-face at Mass?

Unfortunately, How many of us just go through the motions and casually pop a wafer into our mouths, sip a sip of wine, and then sit down unaware of his presence?

It isn’t that he’s not present, we just don’t recognize him.

But that can change!

As we come to the table today, and take the bread that Christ has offered to us, let us realize what it is that is being placed onto our tongues, or reverently laid upon our palms.

It is the most precious substance on earth.

And as we consume his body, blood, soul and divinity, we are to open our hearts, surrendering our will, and allow his grace to fill our soul. As we return to the pews, kneeling in awe of what has just occurred, Mystically united with heaven, we are given the opportunity to feel his presence within us.

Take a moment and think about this……

As you worship – so you believe


As you believe – so you worship.

The way we act and carry ourselves at Mass, tells a great deal about what we believe to be true.

As you worship – so you believe


As you believe – so you worship.

Let this holy place be your Emmaus. A place that is Holy and Sacred, a place where we meet, face-to-face Christ. Our Lord,   Our Savior,    Our Hope,    Our Joy,   Our Life!

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