Sermons

April 18: Welcome Back! (Easter 3B)

“The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Luke 24:32.

With Easter joy, we read of the encounter of Jesus and two disciples on the road to Emmaus. By recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, their lives changed, and this episode becomes a seminal story of the New Testament.

I

Today as we gather at this welcoming table, our celebration has a profound and even heightened meaning.

Welcome back to the Rosary Chapel at Santa Catalina, the centerpiece of our campus. We have experienced fifty or more weeks in which we have not been here in prayerful worship because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the potential risks to our health and personal safety.

I don’t have to tell you about the obvious, each of us has lived through an extraordinary year. You have your own stories. Personal experiences that you may be relating to your grandchildren some fifty years from now.

During the past year, I have prayed for you and your families, friends, people you know, and the many we don’t know. I continue to keep in my prayer intentions those who have suffered from the illness and those who have served so bravely in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and scientific laboratories worldwide.

In a telephone call with Sister Claire earlier this week, we agreed that while the impact of this year has affected the lives of senior adults, we’re more concerned about you.

Those in high school or undergraduate college years have been hit hard – whether adjusting to new ways of learning or simply not having the opportunity of gathering with one another in classes, sports, or artistic efforts. We want to be your support and help you to see the promise and possibilities just ahead.

At the same time, there is plenty to be thankful for, especially the faculty and staff at Santa Catalina. They have worked hard to adapt our school and learning environment to distance learning and address our health needs and personal safety.

And, of course, this effort of ours requires vigilance as we continue in this period of re-entry.

Over the past week, I thought about re-entry, and so has Pope Francis. He said that in times such as these – times of war or shifts in economics like the Great Depression, we come out different.

For better or worse — his overall belief is in the tenderness of life that requires great kindness and mercy. This belief could make a world of difference!

II

Today’s gospel also addresses the issue of how these two disciples of Christ on the road to Emmaus were so troubled by the events that led to Christ’s death on the cross. Mainly, how Jesus revealed Himself in breaking the bread and the community of friends, these friends became witnesses of the risen Lord.

Pope Francis once said that “the entire destiny of the Church” is contained in the Emmaus encounter. He writes:

“We have all had difficult moments in life, dark moments in which we walked in sadness, pensive, without horizons, with only a wall before us. And Jesus is always beside us to give us hope, to warm our hearts, and say, ‘Go ahead, I am with you.’ The secret of the road that leads to Emmaus is simply this: despite appearances to the contrary, we continue to be loved, and God will never stop loving us. God will walk with us always, even in the most painful moments, even in the worst moments.” 

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus comes to a community of friends who help reveal and revive –faith in God and faith in each other? If there’s a lesson to be learned – our community of faith truly counts and is part of the healing.

Ultimately, we must put aside this Covid winter, come out and experience one another at sports events, shopping, in school, or theaters, and churches. Such activities define us and shape our future lives, build friendships and bonds of trust.

Psalm 34 is a favorite of mine, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord, and blessed are those who take refuge in him; his praise shall ever be on my mouth.”

“Taste and see,” perhaps the word “savor” may be the better way to think of how special we are to have this moment of community with one another and with Christ. Maybe more appreciative now than ever!

Frankly, it will take us time to realize what we have gone through this past year.

Yes, after the Resurrection, it took time for the disciples of Christ to fully grasp their role as witnesses and see how the grace of Pentecost might empower their hopes in him and one another and always guided by the Holy Spirit.

Welcome back!

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

When I was in my high school glee club, we sang “I’ll Walk with God.” It was a hymn that the great tenor Mario Lanza performed with such emotion — then and now this song has great meaning. Life may have difficult journeys, and Pope Francis has reminded us that the Lord walks with us. 

I believe you will find Noah Stewart’s recent recording to be most inspiring — as we continue to walk with Christ.

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