May 8, 2011
Third Sunday of Easter: Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Pt 1:17-21: Lk 24:13-35

Today’s Gospel has the story of the road to Emmaus. I am always reminded of a poster I had in the confessional of my first parish of an idyllic autumn road with the inscription, “Happiness is not found at the end of the journey, but along the way.” The two disciples were definitely not on the road to happiness. They were walking away from
Jerusalem, confused and dismayed. Only one of them is named, Cleopas, but I always like to imagine that the other disciple is the wife of Cleopas who is mentioned to be one of the women at the foot of the cross. The symbol is that Jesus, who sent the disciples out two by two with great enthusiasm, now is meeting these two who are lost and
confused and with great sorrow.

The road to Emmaus is very much the story of most of our lives. We are all on this road of life and sometimes we feel like we are lost and confused. The people of Israel throughout the course of the history of salvation were also lost and confused seeking the correct road to salvation. The point is that it is Jesus who comes to us on the journey. As in the famous poem about footsteps we remember that in the moments most difficult we are never abandoned; it is Jesus who is on the road with us, sometimes holding us in His arms during the
darkest moments.

The disciples fail to recognize Jesus. This is hard for us to understand. They were his disciples; they knew him very well and they could not recognize Him when He was right there with them. Last Sunday I was with a group of parishioners at Bogdanovich Park and three
students from St. Bernard High School recognized me from fifteen years ago by my voice, and yet these disciples could not recognize him after three days? Yet, how often on the road of our lives do we fail to recognize Christ’s presence even when He is walking and speaking to us in so many different ways.

This road to Emmaus is a reminder that we need to take time to listen to the voice of God during the course of our journey. If we do not take time to pray, to open the Bible or other spiritual reading, or attend Mass, we also will become confused and end up walking in the wrong direction in life. It will be our faith that will guide us to interpret the meaning of our life and that will set us in the right direction. We are only going to hear the voice of God speaking to us if we allow Him to join us on the journey and listen to His voice along the way.

Finally, the disciples will invite Jesus to stay with them and as they sat at table they will recognize Him in the “Breaking of the Bread”. For the Early Church, the “Breaking of the Bread” was one of the expressions they used for the Eucharist. I remember when I was preparing for my First Holy Communion, Sr. Vita showed us the painting of Jesus knocking on a door without a doorknob explaining that Jesus could not enter the house unless He was invited. Well, after that as a young child I imagined opening my heart a thousand billion times to allow Jesus to enter into my life during my Communion.

This is a season when many will be receiving the sacraments for the first time. Yesterday, today and next Saturday many of our young people will be receiving their First Holy Communion, and next Saturday our teenagers will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
We trust that they have recognized the voice of Jesus as they have been preparing for these special days. We also hope that they will share the joy of the disciples as they recognized Jesus in the Eucharist and ran back with enthusiasm to share their Joy of the encounter with Christ.
The great gift of our Catholic faith is that we recognize that Jesus is always at our side during this journey of life and that He is present in a special way through our sharing in the sacraments. The Eucharist is there to nourish us and help us to see Christ’s love along the journey of our lives. And if our hearts and minds are open we also will be able to say with the disciples, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way?”

Of course I would be remiss not to mention that today we celebrate Mother’s Day. Our mothers are also the ones who are always at our side throughout the journey of our life. They are the ones who taught us how to pray, brought us to church and who were the first face of God as they looked upon us with love. No matter how we go astray they are always the ones who love us and I strongly believe that even when our mothers go ahead of us to heaven they are still pushing us along the road of life through their prayers. God bless all of our mothers, living and deceased, today and always.

God Bless,
Rev John F. Provenza

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