Homily for April 30

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Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Jesus drew near to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him…

The scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what prevented these two disciples
from recognizing the Risen Jesus at their side.
Was it something about him?   Or was it something in them?

Certainly their minds and hearts were consumed
with all that happened in the last few days,
all that had happened to and been reported about - Jesus -
Jesus, who was walking with them
though they failed to recognize him…

Were they so preoccupied with their grief and confusion and fear
that they didn’t recognize their old friend?

Or did God, of his own design and purpose,
let them walk in the mystery, in the darkness, just a little longer?

Or was it simply that they never expected to see Jesus again -
even though they’d heard the report that he had risen?
You know: you and I have heard that same report, haven’t we?
The report that Jesus who was crucified and buried
also rose from the dead.
We’ve been told exactly
what these two disciples on the road to Emmaus had been told
- and yet we, too, to often fail to recognize him
even when he’s walking right by our side.
What prevents you and me from seeing Jesus?

Certainly there are times when my problems and my worries and fears
consume so much of my energy and attention
that I might miss Jesus at my side
-even as I pray for him to be there!
Or perhaps it’s anger or hurt or disappointment
that blur my vision or even blind me
and so I fail to recognize Jesus as he draws close to me
with peace and healing and hope.

Or it could be that I just don’t pay much attention to the Lord,
that I don’t look for him every day in prayer,
keeping my heart and eyes and ears open
for his presence?

Or is it possible that I miss the Lord at my side
because I don’t expect or no longer believe
that he would choose to walk with me,
to keep company with me, to be with me?

Or is God, for his own mysterious design and purpose,
letting me walk in the darkness just a little longer?

There are so many things and situations, so many reasons
that somehow we fail to recognize Jesus at our side.
But the truth is: the Risen Christ never leaves my side - or yours.
There’s not a step we take that the Lord doesn’t walk that step with us.
There’s not a moment of any day or night
when he’s not right beside us, behind us and just ahead of us.
But still, we fail to see him.

And we can fail to hear him when he asks us, as he did the disciples,
“What’s on your mind, what’s your story, as you walk along?”
He wants to know our story and often enough our story,
like that of the two disciples,
is a story of faith, disappointment, confusion and hope.
He wants to be part of our story on our good days and bad days,
through all our ups and downs, in all our joys and sorrows.

• Is there anything in my story, in your story,
that keeps us, prevents us from recognizing the Lord by our side?

• How long has it been since we prayed?
And by prayer here I mean,
how long has it been since I’ve told the Lord my story
and asked him to be part of it?

• How long has it been since we’ve asked the Lord,
as did the two disciples in the story,
how long has it been since we’ve asked Jesus to “stay with us”
and to be the Lord of our lives?

• And finally, do we, like the two disciples,
do we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread here at the altar?

Being here on the Lord’s Day is like walking the road to Emmaus.
Even if our eyes and hearts have been prevented in the past week
from recognizing Jesus by our side,
here at the Lord’s Table,
at the end of one week and the beginning of another,
the Lord draws near and reveals and shares himself with us
in the breaking of the Bread.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist
we break and share the Bread of Life
and in receiving Communion we’re invited to recognize Jesus
who gives himself to us, as once he did on the Cross,
now in the sacrifice and sacrament of this altar.

While preparing this homily
I thought of a prayer attributed to St. Patrick,
sometimes called the lorica which means armor,
and more specifically a hard shelled casing protecting the chest -
in contemporary terms - a kind of spiritual, bullet-proof vest.

I’ll close with that prayer.
Listen for its wisdom
in recognizing Jesus, the Christ,
ever at our side…

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect  me,
from all who shall wish me ill
afar and anear, alone and in a multitude,
God’s shield to protect me ,
against every cruel merciless power,
that may oppose my body and soul.

Christ with me, Christ before me Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise,
Christ to shield me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.

I arise today
with Christ by my side.


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