Third Sunday of Easter

“He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”  The road to Emmaus is a beautiful narrative and in it many of the early Saints saw a picture of the Mass.  As Jesus and the two disciples walk along the road, Jesus interpreted for them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures.  Then, once they arrived at the house, they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  So, too, at Mass we hear the Word of God proclaimed to us (and, hopefully, the homily helps explain the Scriptures to us); then we recognize Our Lord in the breaking of the Bread at the altar.

Our Lord truly comes among us at the Eucharist.  At the words of Consecration, Our Lord is made truly present on our altar and He comes to dwell within our souls when we receive Him in Holy Communion.  Our Lord gives Himself to us as Food.  He feeds us with Himself so that He might fill our hearts with His grace and transform our hearts.  When the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, they were transformed by that encounter.  Prior to meeting Jesus in the breaking of the bread, they were walking along the road looking downcast.  They had heard the news that Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were walking away from the place that it took place.  They had not yet encountered Our Lord and they lacked faith.  Once they encountered Jesus, their hearts burned within them.  They set out at once: they couldn’t wait to share the news that Jesus has risen indeed and they encountered Him.

The Eucharist is not an empty ritual.  In the Eucharist we encounter Our Lord and God in a way unlike any other way.  When we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion we are closer to God than we are anywhere else in the world.  Only in Heaven will we be closer to Our Lord than we are right after we receive Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Through Holy Communion Our Lord gives us Himself and He is the Author of all grace.  When we receive Our Lord, He also gives us the graces that we need to follow Him and love Him: of course we have to have hearts that are open to receive all the graces that He wants to give to us; we must receive Our Lord in Holy Communion with reverence and with love.  We have to have hearts that are open; we have to allow Jesus to work in our hearts.  Our Lord does not force His way into our hearts; we have to let Him in and welcome Him.  We have to rid our hearts of sin in order to prepare a fitting place for Him to dwell.

Making our hearts ready to receive the King of kings is not an easy task.  We have a weak, fallen human nature which is inclined towards sin.  Left to our own devices, the task would be impossible.  Yet Our Lord knows that our hearts are weak reeds blowing in the wind and He did not leave us without assistance.  There are many things which are meant to help us as we endeavor to open our hearts to God.  Our Lord gave us the Sacrament of Confession so that we might receive pardon for sin and clean our souls.  The Lord has given us the Church which guides us and offers us many helps as we journey towards Our Lord.  The Lord gave us His own Mother to be our Mother.  She is a most powerful intercessor for us with Our Lord.

This month of May is a month in which we Catholics, in a particular way, honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary is not only a person who lived two-thousand years ago: she is not just someone that we remember.  She is someone who is alive in Heaven.  She is reigning, right now, at the right hand of Her Son; yet we can talk to her, we can have a relationship with her; we can get to know her.  Our previous Holy Father, now Blessed Pope John Paul II, is a witness to the possibility of that relationship.  He lost his earthly mother when he was very young and yet he knew that he had a heavenly Mother who was also Queen of the Angels.  He had a great devotion to Mary.  He knew that Mary constantly intercedes for us.  She is a Mother ready at every moment to help us.  She is your Mother: she wants you to go to her and ask her for your needs.  She wants to help us; yet many graces are un-received because we fail to ask for them.

Mary’s ultimate goal, of course, is to draw you and me ever closer to Her Son, Jesus Christ.  One of the things that we can and ought to ask her for is the grace to overcome our sins.  We can also ask her to help us receive Her Son in Holy Communion with greater love and devotion.  Our Blessed Mother is a most sure way to greater union with Our Lord.  Let us invoke her powerful intercession during this month dedicated to her honor and as we thank and honor all of our mothers on this Mother’s Day, let us not forget to honor and thank our spiritual Mother: the Mother of Our Lord and our Mother.  O Mary our Queen and our Mother, help us to overcome our sins, obtain for us the graces that we need, and draw us ever closer to your divine Son.  Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.  Amen.