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Can you believe that it is May already? May is the month of Mary. It is a special time that helps us to foster love and devotion for the Mother of Jesus. Jesus is resurrected from the dead and is the King of Heaven and his Mother Mary is the Queen. It is a tradition to sing a special song to the Queen of Heaven during Easter called the Regina Caeli (Latin for Queen of Heaven) and so we sing that today to help us feel the joy Mary had in her heart at the Resurrection of her Son. I encourage you to also do things personally in your homes to honor Mary this month: Maybe pray the Rosary everyday, or put a statue in the living room with roses and a candle so that when everyone passes by they’ll sense her presence. She is always present; we just need to call on her. Mary helps us to recognize and follow Jesus so that we may live our life in cooperation with him. She is like a star in the night. This morning as I drove in it was twilight and there was one star in the sky. It was Venus which is the goddess of love and the mother of the Romans. As Christians we can see it as a providential sign of Mary’s presence. She loves us as a Mother. She is the Star of Evangelization announcing to the world the Rising of her Son. We need her help because even as Christians, as ones who have met Jesus personally through faith, we become disoriented because of trials or struggles and we find ourselves walking away from our relationship with the Lord.

This is what was happening in the Gospel today. Two disciples of Jesus were on a road to Emmaus. We don’t know much about Emmaus. We just know that it was a town away from Jerusalem, away from the Holy Land. They were disappointed and hurt that Jesus did not seem to be who he said he was. So they left and walked away from it all. That is a temptation for us when we get weak in faith, when something happens that we don’t understand or perhaps when we hear a Church teaching that we don’t agree with, or someone in the Church disappoints or angers us. Sometimes we simply get distracted by other priorities in life. Whatever the cause, we have the tendency to lose interest, whether we realize it or not, and begin to just walk away from it all. And so we lose that personal relationship, we become lazy, irritated and angry at heart, we stop praying, we even stop going to Mass. But as we begin to go a different way in life, Jesus comes and finds us. In our confusion he walks with us. He speaks to our doubts, even though we may not recognize him at first. He does this because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to walk the wrong paths in life.

And so on the way to Emmaus, Jesus appears to the two disciples, but they did not recognize him at first. Jesus begins to explain to them through the scriptures, what had happened. The Scriptures are the Word of God and when one listens their hearts begin to burn inside them. After speaking, Jesus was going to keep going along the way, but they begged him to stay with him. This is a great lesson for us of how God operates. Sometimes he allows for us to have bad experiences in life. Sometimes he allows disappointments. Sometimes he allows us to get hurt - whether it is losing a job, or having a fight with a family member or a loved one (husband or wife), losing a game, failing a test, falling into sin. In these times of disappointment, Jesus begins to speak to our hearts in a way that we would not have heard him before. His presence is more powerful in the difficult moments than in times when things are all well. But we have to recognize his presence. He doesn’t force himself on us. He shares with us the mystery of salvation to evoke faith in us until we want to hear more. When we are moved to listen more to the words of God, we start to make the turn back toward Jesus. We begin to want him to remain with us, even though, we might not know it is him. And so the two disciples in the Gospel say to Jesus: “Stay with us.” In our hearts, we too, should come to the point that we are begging Jesus to stay with us, to be by our side in the trials and disappointments of life. To open up our minds and hearts to his wisdom and love that helps makes sense of everything.

In the Gospel, when the evening draws near, they sat down for supper. “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” It was at this moment that they were able to recognize what they were leaving behind: They were leaving Jesus. Because of fear, anger, sadness, and disappointment, they were off looking for another way. And so Jesus brings them back to himself, first through his word, and then when their hearts were burning with a desire for more, he gives them the miracle of his true presence under the appearance of bread, the Eucharist, his Body and Blood.

And it is significant to recognize the day of the week all of this occurred. The Evangelist Luke writes that it was the first day of the week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week. So the experience of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus is ours every week, when Jesus brings us back to himself, back to the place where we can have a true encounter with him in the Holy Mass. In the midst of our own struggles and temptations, the Word of God comes to us and speaks to our hearts. We begin to understand how they are all fulfilled in Jesus. We begin to want Jesus to stay with us. And then bread is broken and Jesus appears to us, and if we have faith, we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.

At the end of their encounter with the Risen Lord, what did the two disciples do? Did they stay in that place? No! They returned to the right path. They went back to Jerusalem, back to the Holy Land. They went back to have fellowship with their brothers, to share with them this amazing experience. That is what we do when we encounter Jesus. He turns our lives around. He shows us the path to life. He gives us the grace through his word to lift our spirits. We forget about what caused us to wonder off and we come back to communion 2ith our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our conversations are not filled with doubt our complaining but with joyful experiences of Christ’s presence in our life. And so each Sunday we return to Church to have fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to rejoice that we have met Jesus along the way of life. And then we sit down and have a meal and renew our faith that through the Broken Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, we too may be raised from the dead and sit at God’s right hand with the King and Queen of Heaven and sing with all the saints in glory. Amen.

Father Timothy Gallagher

5-2-14


St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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