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Father Muench Says...

The Emmaus story is our story, too

May 10, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Luke 24: Then they said to each other: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us.”

I am certain you remember this sentence.  It is from the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Easter, the Emmaus Story.  I paid special attention to that sentence as I prepared my homily, for that Sunday and have continued to meditate upon it.“Our hearts burning” – just what is this experience? The couple on the road to Emmaus had experienced a terrifying time.  Jesus, their Lord and Master, was arrested and crucified; they were now anxious and disturbed.

At this time, Jesus himself, the risen Jesus, comes to be with them with words of peace and love.  I am certain that they were overwhelmed.  But with Jesus, their hearts were burning – they were calmed with peace.

The Emmaus Story is our story.  So, how does the Lord make our hearts burn with peace and love? In prayer, Jesus touches our lives and becomes present to us.  With Jesus, I believe our hearts burn like the couple on the road.  Each time we turn to the Lord in prayer, we are opening our hearts to the Lord’s presence.

Prayer is always a transforming moment.  At the Last Supper, Jesus declared: “Anyone who loves me, will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.”  It is a blessed moment.

Jesus taught them about Scripture – this is the Jesus they still did not recognize yet, the words seemed to come from the Lord. Jesus used Scripture to help them understand and at the same time to strengthen their faith and to give them peace. The couple agreed that it was then that their hearts were burning as Jesus opened the Sacred Scriptures for them.

For us, the Scriptures lead us into the Lord’s presence.  The Scriptures help us to discover more about the Lord.  At the same time, reading the Sacred Scriptures is a time of prayer, allowing Jesus to become part of our life.Each time, we celebrate the Holy Mass we begin with readings from the Scriptures.  These Scriptures unite us as a community in the presence of Jesus.  For me, I believe the singing of the psalm is a special moment drawing us closer to the Lord as we sing the words of these wonderful hymns.  It becomes special when the psalms are sung.

Our Emmaus story then goes on to tell us that Jesus stayed with the couple.  They finally recognized that it was Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  For us, Catholics, this calls to our minds the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  Our participation in the Mass is another opportunity for us to recognize the presence of Jesus to each one of us.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus wants to be part of our lives.  In the reception of Holy Communion, we are united with Jesus in a special, unique, sacramental way.  This is a union that brings support and a stronger faith to live by.  Each Mass is truly a source of great joy as we unite ourselves with the Lord.  The sacrament brings us happiness – making our hearts burn with the fire of God’s love.

As you may remember, Eucharist means “thank you.” Sharing in the Eucharist is our time to be grateful to our God for the great love that comes to us.   We receive Holy Communion in gratitude to Jesus for giving of himself to bring salvation to us through is crucifixion and resurrection.  This is a time of new confidence and stronger faith, a time that brings love to us. that make our hearts burn with love.

Finally, I want to suggest that joining with the Lord in the Eucharist is an important time to pray in gratitude for the many people that become gifts to us in our lives – family and friends – for whom we are deeply grateful.

How important it is as we approach the altar of the Lord to receive Holy Communion to remember in gratitude those important and life changing people who have transformed our own life. This a moment that fills our own lives with love and peace because we have been so gifted.

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