Before we met this morning, one member of our group had gone to mass and heard about the importance of focusing our words and thoughts toward the things of heaven. To speak goodness, see goodness and do good things in our everyday conversations and interactions. Sometimes our world wants us to be selective and choose which side of the fences we ride: this “selectivity”, a sense of proclaiming our preferences in the worldly sense, is actually a tool of division; in an attempt to set ourselves apart we often end up seeming selfish and off-putting. We don’t have to spend so much time speaking our preferences and proclaim them. What is needed is more thought and conversation focusing on heavenly things, good and beautiful. In the gospel and in our case today we saw examples of the goodness that bypasses the need for worldly particularity into the realm of just seeing the loving place in which Christ chooses to reveal himself; in one simple sign of breaking bread, to another selfless gesture of a friend.
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
- …and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread…
- Since Easter, Jesus is continually appearing to the apostles in the least expected places and because he is a resurrected version of himself they do not always recognize him, until, he reveals himself in the breaking of bread. On the road to Emmaus and in the upper room, and on the beach as they are fishing, he decides to let himself be seen in the breaking of the bread. It’s like the Eucharist, his body, is revealed through the bread as it is during the Holy Sacrifice of the mass. But on earth, he assumes something common and comforting to people so they are reassured in his presence, that he isn’t a ghost of any kind, but flesh and blood.
- It is the same for the teaching of the Eucharist at mass; body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, revealed to us in the breaking of the bread, communion.
- We still have trouble recognizing him in the Eucharist as Catholics; many people going to mass still do not understand what is happening on the altar as the priest consecrates the “bread” or “host”; that as Christ did at the last supper gave us his flesh to eat, he became the living bread for us. Not just a symbol. This is a mystery hard to understand as the apostles could not understand the mystery of the resurrected Christ; we must ask God for His grace to understand and have faith, and be patient with myself when I cannot make myself understand certain things on my own, relying on the Holy Spirit for these graces.
- On our retreat we were taught that we can bring a little cup to the altar to be filled with the graces of Jesus in the Eucharist, or we can bring a “super tanker truck”. Whatever space in our heart and souls we have made for Christ to fill up can be filled. Sometimes that space is taken up with earthly attachments or things that are prioritized inappropriately in our hearts. When we empty ourselves out of those inordinate attachments and ask for the graces, God can fill us up abundantly.
- It is important when walking up to receive communion to ask Jesus “please fill me up with all the graces you can give me as I receive you body and blood, soul and divinity in communion.”
- It is said that we can ask for the graces other people have failed to ask for…that God has a storehouse of graces waiting for us, and other people failing to ask for those graces may forfeit them and we can ask for any abundance or excess of graces others may forfeit
- These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you
- Jesus repeatedly reassures the apostles in a kind of “recap”; he is always reminding them that this is what was going to happen and how it was supposed to go, that he was fulfilling the prophecy, so that they are continually reminded and kept on track. He also diffuses their fears as it says they were “terrified” and he tells them not to be “troubled”. He wants to reassure us as well.
- Why are we surprised when things happen as Jesus said or God promised us? We should be expecting amazing results in all difficult situations because when we ask Him, God always helps us when we are trying to do His will.
Making Someone Else Feel Special
Our case today was about a young man who had been friends since his childhood with a girl who has special needs (Down’s Syndrome). He had been seeing everyone make “prom-prosals” (creative ways to ask someone to prom) and knew that this childhood friend of his would not get to experience prom if he did not ask her himself. So he went out of his way to make a special invitation to her. He even said he would be getting a part-time job to make extra money to make sure that it was extra special for his friend.
Similarly, we discussed another situation where a boy who knew a group of friends going to homecoming had not been asked. He had a date, but many of her friends did not. They all met up to take pictures at the park, and he had purchased corsages for each girl and took pictures with them all.
Additionally, we discussed a young girl who decided to take her grandfather as her prom date along with a big group of friends who were going together. All of the friends knew the grandfather and loved talking with him, and were looking forward to having him along for the evening.
The boy in our case today was interviewed on the news for his amazing kindness and good example that he is setting for reaching out to someone who might never get to be a part of something like prom otherwise. He was so joyful about going, and seemed to feel it was a natural thing to do to ask this girl if he could escort her to the prom. It should also be noted that the girl’s family was interviewed and tremendously grateful for this kindness which meant so much. This boy did not seem to have any concerns about what anyone else thought about the situation; he was seemingly just going about his business of being kind to a friend.
Our conversation turned to focusing our minds and words always on the things of heaven and not the world. We all agreed that we often need graces to turn our own selfish thoughts inside out to see what God is asking us to do, and to ask for those graces (as discussed in the gospel reflection) in order to be obedient to that call. Since we again look to the Eucharist as “the source and the summit” of those graces (Pope John Paul the Great), we will make an effort to go to the Eucharist in the chapel or mass everyday, even if only for a minute. And if that becomes impossible for some reason, we will make a spiritual communion with Christ at least once a day to ask for the graces we need to show charity to others and focus on the things of God, and not our own selfish preferences in this world.
VIRTUE: CHARITY, with spotlight on justice (kindness,friendship, respect, care, goodness)
APOSTOLIC RESOLUTION: Visit the chapel or go to mass every day and ask God for as many graces as He can give us, to show us what He needs us to do to serve those around us.
SPIRITUAL RESOLUTION: In addition to trying to get to the chapel or mass each day, we can make a spiritual act of communion with Christ, especially because we are trying to be obedient to Him by being charitable to others.
Spiritual Communion Prayer:
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.