After Easter, I visited my baptismal parish in Pendleton. When I walked inside the church, a flood of memories entered my mind. I thought back to the countless Sundays my family gathered together for Holy Mass on Sunday. I recalled how I was often an altar boy at those masses. I remembered attending religious education beginning in preschool all the way through high school. What struck me through this rush of memories and emotions was the excitement and enthusiasm I experienced by coming to church. Despite everything else going on, going to church was something I looked forward to all of the time. What drew me then and draws me even today is the encounter with Risen Jesus.
In today's Gospel, two of Jesus' disciples are leaving Jerusalem dismayed and discouraged. As they journeyed on their way, they encounter the Risen Jesus. Beginning with the Word and ending with the breaking of the bread, these disciples finally recognize that it is Jesus. With their encounter of the Risen Jesus, the cloud of disbelief and doubt lifts and they return to Jerusalem sharing the good news that Jesus is Risen!
The structure of their encounter with Jesus on the way to Emmaus is much like the encounter we have with Jesus at every Holy Mass. It is Jesus who breaks open the Word during the first part of Mass at the Liturgy of the Word. The Scriptures read at every Mass feeds us with the Good News of salvation. Finally it is Jesus who breaks the bread at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Risen Jesus feeds us with His body, blood, soul, and divinity. Like those disciples, we should be full of joy to leave Holy Mass announcing the Gospel that Jesus is Risen!
Rather than looking at Holy Mass as a weekly chore that we are all obligated to fulfill, recognize that every Mass is our opportunity to encounter the Risen Jesus. Every Mass we are fed by Him in order for us to share the joy of the Resurrection. Perhaps I may not be alone in possessing this enthusiasm and excitement of being at church if our hearts burn within us while He speaks to us on the way of our Christian life.
He is Risen!
In the Risen Christ,