The following is my homily from Sunday, May 4, 2014 – The Third Sunday of Easter:
This Gospel passage might have been the inspiration for the TV series “Undercover Boss”. I’ve only seen, at most, maybe one and a half episodes of the show. But from what I’ve seen, the boss usually undergoes some kind of conversion. The boss realizes that procedures and policies are inadequate and need to be better communicated to the employees. So the boss sets up new processes to fix the issues.
But in this Gospel story, we see a conversion in the two disciples. They are still stuck in the old mindset. St. Luke tells us they were looking downcast. Why? They have heard reports of a vision of Angels announcing the Lord’s Resurrection and an empty tomb! And they are still looking downcast? Then one of them says: “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” Aha, there’s the issue. They missed the Lord’s invitation to conversion. Jesus did redeem Israel, but it wasn’t a redemption that fit their mindset or agenda. They wanted Israel to become politically free from the oppression of the Romans. They are looking for a worldly redemption. Jesus offers them a different redemption, one that frees them from the oppression of sin and death. And not only did the Lord redeem Israel, He redeems the whole world, all of humanity, you and me. That’s the Good News.
And this Good News comes with an invitation to conversion, just like it did for those two disciples. The Lord calls us to a conversion of heart according to his agenda, not some worldly agenda we might have.
In this Gospel, we see the most awesome catalyst for this conversion of heart that all of us need. It has two parts: Liturgy of the Word, and Liturgy of the Eucharist. St. Luke tells us Jesus interpreted the Scriptures for them. That’s the Liturgy of the Word. St. Luke said He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. That’s the Liturgy of the Eucharist. That’s what we are doing right here today. The Lord Himself gives us the means to transmit the Good News to the entire world and down through the ages: the Holy Mass.
Notice in the Gospel, after their conversion, understanding and embracing the Lord’s agenda, and letting go of their own, what do they do? They go and share the good news with others. They are normal Christians and they are called to spread the Gospel. You and I are charged with the same task: spread the Gospel.
We have a great opportunity to invite people to this most awesome catalyst for conversion of heart. Many Catholics blow off Sunday Mass. They are missing out in this intimate encounter with the Living God. They are missing out on the profound joy and fulfillment that comes from the conversion of heart to which the Lord invites us. So we have the opportunity to invite them. We all know people in this situation. Perhaps we can make a resolution to invite at least one person to come and encounter the living God on an upcoming Sunday.
The living God is not only here for us to encounter during Mass. He stays… right here in this tabernacle. We can come in and make a visit, and adore the Lord who is present in the tabernacle, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity.
Some people don’t come to Mass and don’t spend time adoring the Lord because they say they don’t feel anything happening. Notice the disciples in today’s Gospel. They didn’t notice until later that their hearts were burning within them.
It reminds me of a Catholic speaker who uses an analogy. When he started surfing, he spent four hours surfing in overcast weather without sunscreen. He figured since he couldn’t see the sun or feel anything, he would not get sunburned, but he did. His roommate, an experienced surfer, told him it doesn’t matter what you see or feel. Something is still happening. A few weeks later, the same novice surfer went surfing on a cold sunny day without sunscreen thinking once again that he would not get burnt in the cold temperatures because he didn’t feel anything. After a second bad sunburn, his roommate asked him: “How many times to I have to tell you it doesn’t matter what you feel?”
The disciples noticed later that their hearts were burning within them. Perhaps we will notice something later today, maybe next week, maybe next year.
Let’s continue our intimate encounter with the Living God.