As Catholics, one of the most distinctive elements that sets us apart from many of our Christian brothers and sisters is found in the last line of our Gospel today,
“He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
And, rightly so. Our Eucharistic faith is central to our understanding of the Sacraments, holiness, community, social ministry, and so forth. However, today I would like to focus on an equally important truth that the broken-hearted disciples discover and proclaim in a question,
Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened up the Scriptures?
We live in a society that is starving to hear God speak to them. In fact, one of the most common questions I hear, goes something like this, “Why doesn’t God speak to us today?” or “How to I know what Jesus is saying to me?” or “Why can’t I hear the voice of God since you say he is always speaking to us?” Fair enough. Very good questions.
Today’s Gospel reading directly addresses these questions. We hear the Lord’s voice through Sacred Scriptures. The Holy Writ is not a collection of historical books, though it contains history; it is not an anthology of Christian inspiration stories. Though it has inspired me; it is not an ethics text book (although I do believe the term Bible could be an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). It is Christ Himself, the Word of God speaking to us.
The same word that when spoken, created everything from nothing without effort; the same word that made the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the poor hear the good news and the word that set the captives free; is probably sitting on a shelf at home – maybe under a stack of books or God-forbid, laying on the floor.
You might be thinking, “Deacon, lighten up it is just a book.” Brothers and Sisters, it is not just a book. In fact, the Church during the Second Vatican Council writes this about “the book”,
“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body.”
How do we venerate the body of our Lord? When we pass by the tabernacle we genuflect, we bow before we receive Him during Holy Communion, and once we have received our Lord we kneel or sit quietly in His presence. I am sure that we would go nuts if we took him back to our seats and tossed him under our chairs until we were ready to leave.
Why am I harping on this? Because I know you want to hear his voice! I know some of us here are struggling with the idea that God, let alone Jesus, truly exists. I know that all of us are looking for someone to assist us daily in understanding ourselves and our lives.
Jesus wants to speak to us, daily. I know in my life, I found it frustrating when I was told over and over again to listen to the Lord because he will answer my prayers. First thought in my head – what station do I tune in to hear Him. I mean, seriously, AM or FM? Does it on come on a disk – what do I search for at the iTunes store?
We as Catholics need to rediscover Scripture. Scripture has the power to transform our lives not because the words are inspirational but because it is a person, the Word of God, the Power and Wisdom from on high, our Resurrection and our Life, Jesus- the First born from the Dead. When Jesus speaks, Scripture says,
- My word does not return void but accomplishes the task it set out to do. (Isaiah)
- For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
- How can I see Jesus? John 14:22 – If you love me and follow my commands, I will reveal myself to you.
- What is the best way to raise my children? How can the young walk without fault? Only by keeping your words. (Psalm 119:9)
It is not enough for us to understand intellectually that Jesus loves us – we need to hear His words of love, from His mouth. And that can only be experienced through reading Scripture and, in a special way, during Mass.
Now, it is Mother’s Day and our mothers need to be honored. Mothers are the first educators of their children from the womb. They have instilled in each of us how we begin to hear the voice of Jesus in the Scriptures. I believe they would suggest the following:
- Mom would say, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Meaning, do not start from the beginning and try to read to the end. You’re toast once you hit the book of Leviticus which is three books in (72 books).
- Dad would say, “Listen to your mother, she knows what she is talking about.” In other words, read with your mother the Church. What do I mean? The Church guarantees the Lord has something specific to say through the readings of the day. Start off with the Gospel. The daily readings can be found on the parish Web site, the bulletin, Catholic app on your iPhone (Have your kids show you mom and dad).
- And our favorite, “Will you just be quiet and listen for a moment?”
For my part, here is a technique that will help make this time of sacred reading profitable for you: read, listen, apply and resolve.
a. Read the selection to first see what it says
b. Read again to hear what Jesus is trying to tell His audience or even you.
c. Consider how it can be applied to your life.
d. Resolve to choose one thing to do that day in response to His word.
Follow these steps and you will honor your mother today. Her goal in life was to not only provide the love and tools to be successful in this life, but prepare you for the next.