Sunday Homily: Emmaus, Mass and Us
One of the great misnomers in the faith is that it is filled with words written long ago and therefore no longer applies. If there is any Gospel story that throws that whole idea out, it is that of the story of Emmaus. This account which is only found in the Gospel of Luke, is something that we should remember because it is the basis of all we do here.
So it begins with these disciples in total confusion because everything that they expected to happen with Jesus, collapses when He dies on the cross. Now they hear rumors that he resurrected from the dead and they do not know what to think. When all is said in done, they are overjoyed for having seen the Lord in the breaking of the bread after he explained the scriptures to them.
What is it we do at mass? Let’s look at it: We come together, we acknowledge being in the presence of the Lord unworthily and ask his forgiveness so that we may approach Him. We glorify Him and then we listen to the scriptures hearing His word. Then we find him in the Breaking of the Bread. That is literal by the way. Remember before we distribute communion I hold up the broken host over the chalice: the breaking of the bread.
Emmaus presents us the elements of the Mass. However, notice that in this encounter with Christ all their anxiety and trepidation over the horrible experience is set aside and then they come to know the truth. Christ has been raised and they now have eternal life. He is everything He said he is, and more.
People look at the times we are living, it is clearly different than any we as a race lived before, since the Maccabees. Many of the youth here are living in a culture that we could not imagine and we, unlike our parents, have trepidation over these times.
However, search the scriptures. You will see that there is nothing going on right now that the scriptures have not given warning to us. I am not talking specifically. You will not find, for example, in the Book of Revelation any talk of a crazy family of dictators in a Northeastern Asian country in the third millennium. That is not a throw away line in my homily. You can find those preachers who will take a newspaper and claim that the events on the front page can be found in chapter x and verse y of the Book of Revelation. Two of the most opposite presidents we had in this country: Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were both described as the anti-Christ in Revelation by some preachers. All that is ridiculous, but there are people who believe it. This is not what Jesus means, however.
What you will find is all the basic elements that bring us to this day, and beyond, beginning with the change in morality. Those who do not search the scriptures, those who do not unite with Christ and humbly worship him and embrace His wisdom will not only never know the truth nor will they understand our times or any other. They will succumb to the atmosphere of the day, we see that happening everyday. However, those who come to hear the word of the Lord in the scriptures and join him and receive him in the breaking of the bread will not only see beyond these times, they will understand them in light of the word and wisdom of God.
People complain that priests are not speaking enough about sin, and yes, maybe I need to preach more on it. However, if you understand the teachings of the scriptures and you understand the reality of encountering Christ in the mass through the breaking of the bread, you will understand the reality of sin and the call to holiness more than I or anyone else on the planet could preach on it.
You will understand the world around you on a deeper level than any journalist you see on television. This is what happens to the disciples in Emmaus. They are lost in confusion. Living in deep doubt and regret, when suddenly after their encounter with Christ their eyes are opened and they suddenly realize that God is still in charge and Christ is truly their king.
This is the point of coming to mass.
In a previous parish, the parishioners saw the Church as another level of government, literally. So, they understood their was a federal government, a state, county, city and then the Church through the parish. So why did they go to Church, because they were supposed to go, that is the law. They did not understand the whole message we see in this Gospel.
What does Emmaus teach? We understand our world, and our place in it, through knowing the scriptures and coming together in the breaking of the bread. That is why we attend mass. Christ calls us to unite ourselves with Him that we understand the world around us, our mission to it as we continue onto eternal life.
If you truly come to understand what Christ is teaching us everyday, then you will see the world differently and you will see how our only hope is in Christ. You will also see the importance of the mission to which you are called to a deep, deep level and you will be back here every Sunday because you will realize that if we want to truly encounter Christ, we find Him in the breaking of the bread which is Jesus giving Himself literally to us that we may live in the hope he gives to us.