Third Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2017
Lord Jesus Christ, open my eyes and my understanding so that I may recognize You in all my experiences. Help me to practice with strength and determination Your Words that are Spirit and Life. Amen.
The two disciples in this Sunday's Gospel reading did not recognize Jesus until after they heard him explain the scriptures and then broke bread with him. It was a two-part process.
First, while listening to him teach about the scriptures, only their hearts recognized him. ("Were not our hearts burning within us?") Their eyes didn't see his true identity until Jesus shared a meal with them, raised the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them to eat.
When we celebrate Mass today, we're on a similar journey with Jesus. First, we have the Liturgy of the Word, during which we hear the scriptures and a homily that explains them. This is a time of opening our hearts to him.
A well-trained reader will speak the words of scripture with meaning and emphasis so that our hearts can recognize God in the words. A well-trained priest or deacon will set our hearts on fire as if Jesus himself were teaching us the meaning of the scriptures. But even when the reader or homilist does a poor job, we can open our hearts to hear Jesus speaking to us directly.
Then we move into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When the presiding priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is Jesus himself who is actually doing it, using the priest's hands and vocal chords. Jesus is doing for us what he did for those two disciples at Emmaus.
If we have opened our hearts to Jesus during the first part of Mass, and if we are still paying attention, we see much more than a piece of bread and a chalice of wine. We see Jesus. We recognize him with our hearts and our heads. We know beyond all doubt that the resurrected Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
In what area(s) of your life does Jesus seem to be absent? How can the Mass help you recognize Jesus and feel his closeness? What else can you do to discover the presence of Jesus when you are not able to sense his nearness?
Questions for Group Faith Sharing:
When did you discover that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist? What helped you with that discovery? How do you know that the bread and wine change into the substance of Jesus while retaining their original form (which is called "transubstantiation")? How easy is it for you to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist? Why?
Note: Catechists who teach how Christ reveals himself through the Mass might want to use my PowerPoint presentation "Christ's True Presence in the Mass and the Holy Eucharist" -- visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com/RCIA/catechumenate/sacraments/Mass/
Get the code to post the GNR Widget on your website or blog.
Or use this invitation:
GOOD NEWS REFLECTIONS! Receive by email a reflection each morning based on the readings of Sunday and daily Mass. Find out more and subscribe at www.gnm.org