Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Mass is our Road to Emmaus

3rd Sunday of Easter Year A:
We have heard it said many times, “life is a journey.”  But what does that really mean?  Next, at the end of this month I will be going on a journey.  I’ll be leaving for 2 months to study Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.  This is my 4th summer out of 5.  The journey to DC involves many steps.  I will have to pack all the stuff I need for 2 months into my car.  I will have to stop for gas.  I will have to look up directions.  I will have to stop along the way for the necessities and food.  Each of the little steps along the way are all leading to DC.  But, I can certainly say that I’m not thinking about my destination at every moment along the way.  Also, not every moment is pleasant or amazing.  But, each little step on the way are all possible because I need to get to DC.
Life is a journey.  We are all on our way to Christ.  Every human being on earth will see Christ face to face.  He is the destination of this journey.  Maybe we don’t see that destination every day of our life, and not every day is a day where we see and feel Christ as a part of our lives.  Some days are filled with sadness and pain.  But, the more we can remember the destination, the journey takes on a new meaning.   Even in those parts of the journey that might bring on weariness, or where we might lose hope, if we have Christ before us the journey will always be possible. 
St. Peter, in the second reading, tells us to conduct ourselves with reverence during our sojourning.  I love that word, reverence.  It means to be quiet and respectful, conscious that we live every day in God’s presence. Where do we find this reverence?  St. Peter goes on to say that the resurrection is the source of our faith and hope.  For the apostles, the resurrection was absolutely decisive.  It was that event that changed everything.  We know that the disciples all fled Jesus, denying or betraying him.  But, in the first reading we hear Peter preaching boldly about Christ.  The difference between the scared frightened disciples on Holy Thursday and the fearless proclaimers of the Word afterward was their experience of the Risen Christ.
The same is true for us.  It will be our experience of the Risen Christ that will give us the reverence we need for our sojourning, the faith and hope we have in God.  Now, you might be thinking: great, all I need is an experience of the Risen Jesus and everything will be just fine.
Now, it is certainly the case that Christ has appeared to people over the ages, so I won’t rule that out.  But, there is an experience of the Risen Jesus that is much closer to home.  In fact, we are all doing it right now.  It’s the Mass of course.
On the Road to Emmaus we hear about 2 disciples meeting Jesus.  What I love about this passage is what the gospel tells us and what it doesn’t.  First, we hear that one of the disciples was named Cleopas.  Really?  Cleopas!  Who was Cleopas?  Up till now we have never heard his name in the gospel.  He is not one of the twelve.  We know he was a follower of Jesus, but he was a rather minor character.  The other guy doesn’t even get named.  So the gospel tells us that it was not just the super-famous apostles that see the Risen Lord.  Also, I see that unnamed disciple as standing in for all of us.  We are on this journey, and Jesus still comes to us the same way he did then.  First, in the Holy Scriptures, second in the breaking of the bread.  In these two ways Christ continues to manifest himself to all his disciples.
What makes a person a Christian is an experience of the Risen Christ, and Jesus, in his divine wisdom, has decreed that the one privileged medium by which he is able to manifest himself to the world for the rest of time is the Holy Mass.  Right here we continue to read the scriptures, and Christ continues to break the bread. 

Life is indeed a journey to Christ.  No matter what we face in this life, we will be able to conduct ourselves with reverence because of our faith and hope in the Risen Jesus.  It is precisely through the Mass that we experience the Risen Christ.  No wonder the Mass is such an important part of our journey through life.  Every time we gather here Christ is made known to us through the reading of Scripture and the breaking of the bread.

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