Here is the homily from tonight’s Adoration and gathering of young adults.
The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus: (Luke 24: 13 – 33)
“They did not recognize him.”
How many walk around in our world today, even those who believe in Jesus, and yet do not find him, do not recognize him? My dear young friends, I want you to know and always believe, “Jesus walks with you.” (Luke 24:15) As we begin a series of prayerful encounters with each other over this next year, it is important, even significant, that the format for our gatherings will always include Christ through the intimate sharing of Himself in the Eucharist.
As much as I want you to know and believe that Christ always walks with you, I want also to express in these encounters my own care and love for you. I want to know you. I want to know your concerns. I want to know how we can walk together in faith, in the Light of Christ and bring hope to one another and to the world around us.
Our Church is a living community of fellowship and communion. We need each member of this Body of Christ. We need you, my dear friends. We need each other. I want to invite you and encourage you to love both Christ and His Church. Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York has a great line: “People today want Christ without His Church. They want the King without His Kingdom, “ but, this can never be the case.
Tonight I invite you to love Christ and to love His Church. Do not be scandalized at the humanity of the Church. Just as we must “look beyond” the small piece of unleavened bread before us tonight to “recognize” in faith the True Presence of the Risen Christ in the Eucharist, so must we look at times beyond the humanity of the Church to recognize its Divinity. The divinity of the Church is something we are called to discover and rediscover over and over at times, because it will always be human and divine at the same time. I invite you tonight to a strong fraternity with the family that calls itself the Roman Catholic Church. I invite you tonight to explore the reality of relationship that is God, and in God, with and in Jesus Christ, with and in the Church.
I invite you tonight, in short, to become saints. Too many today want us to leave our faith at the doorstep of our homes and churches. We cannot do this. Our Life in Christ and our faith in Christ compel us to walk with Him at all times, in all places, in every relationship. We cannot compartmentalize our faith. It is to be lived and expressed in our very person and throughout our life. Even as we are invited by Jesus to become saints, we also recognize that He did not enter this world only for those who were living as saints. He did not found the Church only for saints. In His earthly ministry, Jesus was always found with sinners, and so He founded this Church for sinners, for people like you and me, that we might, by faith in Him and by His grace, become saints. To some extent, in all honesty we could say, Christ is always with sinners still today, because that is all He has to work with!
Jesus came into the world to bring Light, His Light, into darkness. He is still journeying with us today, to bring us His Light.
In the depths of our hearts, it is Christ we long for. In the depths of our hearts, Christ comes to meet us, to be our life, our hope, our joy. In moments of complete self-honesty, we know that His words are Truth. That is because He is the Word of the Father, become flesh. The Word of the Father is always and only Truth.
That is why Jesus tells us that “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Indeed, apart from Jesus, we are nothing. Apart from Jesus, we cease to exist, because He and He alone is Life. Remain in Jesus, dear friends! Remember His words found in John’s Gospel: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
For us, as members of the Catholic Church and faith, a significant means of remaining in Jesus is the Eucharist. The disciples on the road to Emmaus so wanted to see Jesus, the One they came to know and love, the One who died on the cross. And, yet, they did not even recognize Him as He approached and walked along with them. It was only as He explained the Scriptures (Liturgy of the Word) and broke the Bread (Liturgy of the Eucharist) that their eyes were opened to recognize the Risen Christ.
My dear friends, the same two elements remain with us today – and they do so because of the Church! Would we still have the Scriptures proclaimed to us today, or the Eucharist celebrated today, if it were not for the Church? Just as Christ opened the eyes of his disciples, He comes to open our eyes to His living presence in our midst today.
So again, I say to you: Stay close to Christ. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith that you may recognize Him in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Eucharist. I read a quote offered recently by Fr. Tom Rosica, an American, Basilian priest who is the founder of the Salt and Light Catholic Television network in Canada. The quote is from the French writer, Francois Mauriac. I believe it is quite relevant for us this evening:
“If you are friends with Christ, many others will warm themselves at your fire…On the day you no longer burn with love, many will die of the cold.”
I would like to close my remarks this evening with a few quotes from the late Vietnamese Cardinal, Francis Xavier Van Thaun. This young Archbishop spent 13 years in prison in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, nine of those in solitary confinement. Even from prison, he was an inspiring leader of faith for his people.
He encouraged his people, as he would us today: “Live every moment of life for God, because every moment belongs to God.” He lived and believed that “there is only one failure in life…the failure to hope.” Two final quotes: “Only one moment exists for you in all its beauty and that is the present moment. Live it completely in the love of God.” Last, which seems so appropriate as we bask in the warmth of Christ’s love present to us again tonight in this Eucharist: “If you lack everything or have lost everything, but still have the Blessed Sacrament, you actually still have everything.”
From his prison cell, he was able to celebrate the Mass, because his family was allowed to bring him “medicine for his stomach illness”, which they knew he was asking for wine and hosts. He celebrated Mass in solitary confinement by putting three drops of wine and one drop of water in the palm of his hand.
At his funeral Mass in 2002, during the homily, Pope John Paul II referred to these Masses of Cardinal Van Thaun, saying that with these three drops of wine and one drop of water in the palm of his hand, this was his altar. This was his cathedral. Such is the majesty that is ours in Christ. Such is the majesty that is Christ, present in the Eucharist. May each of us live with such faith. May each of us live with the recognition that our life is not ours…it belongs to God.0